After resisting calls to impeach President Donald Trump for months, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Tuesday she will discuss the Democratic Party’s position on impeachment at an evening press conference.
The announcement comes after 20 Democrats, many of them moderates in competitive districts, have said they favor opening an impeachment inquiry in the past 48 hours. As of this writing, 166 House Democrats — more than two-thirds of the 235 member caucus — have expressed support for opening an inquiry, according to an NBC News analysis.
Support for impeachment has grown amid reports that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The matter is at least partly related to a whistleblower complaint, which the administration has withheld from Congress.
Multiple news outlets have reported that Biden is also expected to call on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, unless the White House “complies with all of Congress’ outstanding lawful requests for information — in the Ukraine matter, and in the other investigations.” His comments on impeachment also mark a shift for the former vice president, who previously resisted calling for impeachment.
Insisting that his July 25 phone call with Zelensky was “a perfect phone call,” Trump has denied any improper behavior. In the days before that call, Trump reportedly ordered that nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine be withheld.
The president said that he has “authorized the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript” of his phone conversation with Zelensky.
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump confirmed he ordered the aid freeze , although he claimed that the move came amid concerns the U.S. was contributing more to Eastern European country than other nations were.
But news reports of the president’s call to Zelensky and his subsequent comments about it have revealed that Trump allegedly sought to pressure Zelensky into digging up dirt on Biden, the Democratic frontrunner in most national polls.
Hunter Biden served for nearly five years on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, whose owner came under scrutiny by Ukrainian prosecutors for possible abuse of power and unlawful enrichment. Though he was not accused of any wrongdoing in the investigation, anti-corruption advocates expressed concern that Hunter Biden served at the company at the time his father was the Obama administration’s point person on relations with Ukraine.
As vice president, Joe Biden reportedly pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, or lose $1 billion in loan guarantees. Biden, at the time, joined many Western leaders in pressing for the ouster of Shokin, who they argued was ignoring corruption in his own office and among the political elite. There is no evidence that either Biden misused his authority.
The situation has appeared to inch House Democrats closer to impeaching Trump, whom they accuse of using his office for personal and political benefit.
Also on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he would seek a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate on a resolution calling for the Trump administration to turn over the whistleblower complaint to Congress.
Intelligence Inspector General Michael Atkinson informed the House and Senate Intelligence Committees of the complaint’s existence on Sept. 9 — the same day the House Oversight, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees launched an investigation into an alleged “scheme” by the president and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to influence Ukraine to probe the Bidens.
The contents of the whistleblower complaint remain unknown, though Atkinson deemed the matter an “urgent concern.” Under such circumstances, federal law requires the complaint to be transmitted to congressional intelligence committees within seven days.
In this case, however, acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, has refused to turn over the complaint after consulting with officials at the Department of Justice. He is set to testify publicly before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
Zelensky, however, appears to have received a different impression from his call with Trump.
During a visit to Ukraine earlier this month, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke with Zelensky, whom he said “directly” expressed concerns to him that “the aid that was being cut off to Ukraine by the president was a consequence of his unwillingness to launch an investigation into the Bidens.”