The House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, was always a skeptic about impeaching Donald Trump, but that might be about to change. One Democratic operative tells Cockburn that Pelosi is now preparing to announce the momentous step of forming a select committee that would draft articles of impeachment against the president. According to this source, she will discuss the matter with the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff – and an announcement would be made after that.
If there is to be such a committee – and Pelosi has confirmed only that there will be ‘an announcement’ – its first order of business would be to look at Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. The president has now admitted he withheld military aid from Ukraine while asking the country’s president no less than eight times to investigate ‘corruption’ by the former US vice president, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter. Trump, however, maintains that assistance was withheld not to gain leverage in the hunt for dirt on the Bidens but because European governments weren’t paying their fair share.
L’Affaire Ukraine is moving at lightning speed. It began when a whistleblower from the intelligence services reported the call between Trump and the Ukrainian president to his superiors – supposedly because of improper pressure applied by Trump. Two days ago, Pelosi wrote a highly unusual open letter to House Democrats calling on the acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire ‘to obey the law and turn over the whistleblower’s full complaint’. In a further statement, that could be seen as preparing the way for impeachment hearings, Pelosi wrote: ‘If the administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the president…’ The Judiciary Committee, under Nadler, has already set the rules for any future impeachment hearings.
Trump has just made his counter move, authorizing the release of the full transcript of his call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. He said it would be ‘fully “declassified and unredacted,’ tweeting: ‘You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call.’ In doing this, Trump has already bitterly disappointed one group of people: the Ukrainians – whether crooked officials or forgers – said to be trying to sell the transcript of the call for large sums of money in Kiev. But has he shot the Democrats’ fox? Whether or not his ‘publish and be damned’ maneuver is a brilliant move will depend on the content of the call. What Speaker Pelosi puts in her announcement tonight will tell us which way the wind is blowing.