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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 178)

Why an Impeachment Inquiry Now? Democrats Cite the Clarity of the Case

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-assess-facebookJumbo Why an Impeachment Inquiry Now? Democrats Cite the Clarity of the Case Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Pelosi, Nancy impeachment House of Representatives Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party

WASHINGTON — For months, dozens of House Democrats anxiously avoided even the mention of impeaching President Trump — right up until the moment that they demanded it.

The sudden embrace of an impeachment inquiry by previously reluctant House Democrats — most notably Speaker Nancy Pelosi — is attributable to one fundamental fact: They believe the new accusations against Mr. Trump are simple and serious enough to be grasped by a public overwhelmed by the constant din of complex charges and countercharges that has become the norm in today’s Washington.

In contrast to the murkiness of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump, Democrats see the current allegations as damningly clear-cut. His refusal so far to provide Congress with an intelligence official’s whistle-blower complaint as required by law, coupled with the possibility that Mr. Trump dangled American military aid as a bargaining chip to win investigation of a political rival by a foreign government, strikes them as a stark case of presidential wrongdoing. They consider it egregious enough that they expect many Americans who had been cool to the idea of moving to oust the president to recognize the imperative for the House to act.

“It has shifted the ground,” Representative Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont and a member of the Intelligence Committee, said about the new allegations against the president, as party support for an impeachment inquiry solidified. “It makes the brazenness of the conduct and the simplicity of the misconduct easy for everybody to understand.”

A second factor was also at work. The national security implications of the president pressuring an embattled ally for political help threw open the door for more moderate Democrats — many of them products of the military and intelligence communities, rather than lifelong politicians — to justify their decision to pursue an impeachment case against the president despite his relative popularity in their districts. In Tuesday’s outpouring of new demands for an inquiry, national security loomed large as a rationale.

“Make no mistake, these recent allegations are certainly dire,” Representatives Steven Horsford and Susie Lee, two Nevada Democrats who had resisted impeachment, said in a joint statement. “They point to a direct abuse of power at the expense of our national security.”

Ms. Pelosi’s reversal was a head-snapping change. Since early in Mr. Trump’s tenure, the speaker had been the leading voice for restraint on impeachment, recognizing the political danger to her hard-won majority as well as the potential for a backlash that could hand Mr. Trump a second term in the White House. Despite her own deep disregard for the president, Ms. Pelosi did not believe the public was behind a formal impeachment inquiry that she considered nationally divisive. She preferred that various committees pursue Mr. Trump on a range of issues before next year’s election without forcing formal impeachment action.

That all changed with the disclosure of the whistle-blower complaint against the president.

Like her colleagues, Ms. Pelosi said that while the latest allegation against the president is but one candidate for an article of impeachment, “this is the most understandable by the public.”

“We don’t ask foreign governments to help us in our elections,” Ms. Pelosi said Tuesday at a forum sponsored by The Atlantic.

The initiation of a formal impeachment inquiry carries grave political risks for Democrats, allowing Mr. Trump and congressional Republicans to argue that Democrats are unfairly tormenting the president for partisan gain with an election just more than a year away. “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” Mr. Trump tweeted from New York, where he was attending meetings at the United Nations, as Democrats announced that they were opening a formal impeachment inquiry.

Republicans paid a steep political price for moving to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998, and some analysts believe this episode could backfire on Democrats as well.

But with the party clamor growing for action against the president after the Ukrainian revelations, Ms. Pelosi and others who had been holding back faced the prospect that failing to move forward on demands to hold the president accountable could cost them more with their own party than pursuing impeachment might hurt them with Republicans and independents. Long a progressive hero, Ms. Pelosi had already drawn fire from the left for failing to act.

Even as momentum rapidly built, worries surfaced among Democrats that the drive could fizzle with the release of a transcript of the telephone call between Mr. Trump and the Ukrainian president if it proved less explosive than anticipated — an outcome Republicans predicted. But the speaker and others said that such an outcome would not deter them and that they wanted to hear all of the whistle-blower’s account of what led to the complaint against Mr. Trump, which is believed to include more than the call.

The decision to back the inquiry was not easy for Democrats who had been hesitant to get on board.

“I certainly didn’t run for Congress to be part of an impeachment inquiry,” said Representative Haley Stevens, Democrat of Michigan, who called the phone call an abuse of power. “It’s heartbreaking to look something like impeachment in the face,” she added. “No matter who the president is, we want them to succeed. At the same time, I have to maintain the rule of law and checks and balances.”

While the revelation of the whistle-blower complaint broke the logjam on impeachment, Democrats were becoming increasingly incensed at the proud defiance of the House by the president and his allies, essentially thumbing their noses at a coequal branch of government empowered to oversee the conduct of the administration. The Trump strategy had been effective as recently as a few days ago, when Democrats seemed stymied in their pursuit of the president with the prospect of a formal impeachment inquiry flagging.

To many of them, the fact that Mr. Trump had so far escaped any reckoning had only emboldened him to encourage the Ukrainian government to open a corruption investigation into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a potential 2020 opponent, and his son Hunter Biden.

Now, Democrats who had been hesitant to open an inquiry are all in.

“These actions, which the president has admitted, represent a gross abuse of power and an abuse of the trust we the people have placed in the office of the president,” Representative Lizzie Fletcher, a Democrat from Houston who flipped a Republican seat last year and will face a challenge in holding on to it, said in a statement. She said the “House of Representatives should act swiftly to investigate and should be prepared to use the remedy exclusively in its power: impeachment.”

For months, it appeared that Ms. Pelosi’s calculus and the deep reservations of Democrats in swing districts would keep the House from moving forward on impeachment. The speaker told fellow Democrats in a private conference call in August that the House would not move to impeach unless the president gave them no choice.

In the eyes of Democrats, that is exactly what happened.

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Nancy Pelosi’s Statement on Impeachment: ‘The President Must Be Held Accountable’

Westlake Legal Group 24pelosi-transcript-facebookJumbo Nancy Pelosi’s Statement on Impeachment: ‘The President Must Be Held Accountable’ United States Politics and Government United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Pelosi, Nancy impeachment House of Representatives Constitutions

Here is a transcript of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s remarks on Tuesday announcing the impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

Good afternoon.

Last Tuesday, we observed the anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution on Sept. 17. Sadly, on that day, the intelligence community inspector general formally notified the Congress that the administration was forbidding him from turning over a whistle-blower complaint. On Constitution Day. This is a violation of law.

Shortly thereafter press reports began to break of a phone call by the president of the United States calling upon a foreign power to intervene in his election. This is a breach of his constitutional responsibilities.

The facts are these. The intelligence community inspector general, who was appointed by President Trump, determined that the complaint is both of urgent concern and credible, and its disclosure, he went on to say, relates to one of the most significant and important of the director of national intelligence’s responsibility to the American people.

On Thursday the inspector general testified before the House Intelligence Committee stating that the acting director of national intelligence fought him from disclosing the whistle-blower complaint. This is a violation of law. The law is unequivocal. The D.N.I. staff — the D.N.I., director of national intelligence — shall provide Congress the full whistle-blower complaint.

For more than 25 years, I’ve served on the Intelligence Committee as a member, as the ranking member, as part of the Gang of Four, even before I was in the leadership. I was there when we created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. That did not exist before 2004. I was there even earlier than the ’90s when we wrote the whistle-blower laws and continue to write them to ensure the security of our intelligence and the safety of our whistle-blowers.

I know what their purpose was. And we proceeded with balance and caution as we wrote the laws. I can say with authority the Trump administration’s actions undermine both. Our national security and our intelligence and our protections of the whistle-blowers. More than both.

This Thursday, the acting D.N.I. will appear before the House Intelligence Committee. At that time, he must turn over the whistle-blower’s full complaint to the committee. He will have to choose whether to break the law or honor his responsibility to the Constitution. On the final day of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when our Constitution was adopted, Americans gathered on the steps of Independence Hall to await the news of a government our founders had crafted. They asked Benjamin Franklin: “What do we have? A republic or a monarchy?”

Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Our responsibility is to keep it. Because of the wisdom of our Constitution enshrined in three co-equal branches of government serving as checks and balances on each other. The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution especially when the president says Article II says, ‘I can do whatever I want.’ For the past several months, we have been investigating in our committees and litigating in the courts, so the House can gather all the relevant facts and consider whether to exercise its full Article I powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity of articles of impeachment. And this week the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically.

The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections. Therefore, today I’m announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. I’m directing our six committees to proceed with their investigations under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.

The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law. Getting back to our founders in the darkest days of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote, “The times have found us.” The times found them to fight for and establish our democracy. The times have found us today. Not to place ourselves in the same category of greatness as our founders but to place us in the urgency of protecting and defending our Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic.

In the words of Ben Franklin, to keep our republic. I thank our chairmen — Chairman Nadler, Chairman Schiff of Intelligence, Chairman Engel, Chairman Cummings of Oversight, and Chairman Cummings, I’ve been in touch with constantly. He’s a master of so much, but including inspectors general and whistle-blowers. Congressman Richie Neal of the Ways and Means Committee, Congresswoman Maxine Waters. I commend all of our members, our colleagues for their thoughtful, thoughtful approach to all of this, for their careful statements.

God bless them and God bless America. Thank you all.

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Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday that the House would begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, saying that he had betrayed his oath of office and the nation’s security in seeking to enlist a foreign power for his own political gain.

“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” she said after emerging from a meeting of House Democrats in the basement of the Capitol. Mr. Trump, she said, “must be held accountable — no one is above the law.”

Read the Transcript
Nancy Pelosi’s Statement on Impeachment: ‘The President Must Be Held Accountable’

Sept. 24, 2019

The announcement was a stunning development that unfolded after months of caution by House Democrats, who have been divided over using the ultimate remedy to address what they have called flagrant misconduct by the president. It ushered in the beginning of a remarkable new chapter in American political life, with the potential to cleave an already divided nation, reshape Mr. Trump’s presidency and the country’s politics, and create heavy risks both for him and for the Democrats who have decided to weigh his removal. And it could result in Mr. Trump becoming only the third president in modern history to be impeached, after Bill Clinton and Richard M. Nixon, who resigned in the middle of the process.

In this case, with an avalanche of Democrats — including many who had resisted the move — now demanding it, Ms. Pelosi said that Mr. Trump’s reported actions, and his administration’s refusal to share details about the matter with Congress, have left the House no alternative outside of impeachment.

At issue are allegations that Mr. Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to open a corruption investigation of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his son. The conversation is said to be part of a whistle-blower complaint that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress.

Mr. Trump said on Tuesday that he would authorize the release of a transcript of the conversation, practically daring Democrats to try to find an impeachable offense in a conversation that he has called “perfect.” But Democrats, after months of holding back, demanded the full whistle-blower complaint, even as they pushed toward an expansive impeachment inquiry that could encompass unrelated charges.

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Ms. Pelosi said.

The president, in New York for several days of international diplomacy at the United Nations, issued a defiant response on Twitter, in a series of fuming posts that culminated with a simple phrase: “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”

“Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage,” Mr. Trump wrote. “So bad for our Country!

Ms. Pelosi said she had directed the chairmen of the six committees that have been investigating Mr. Trump to “proceed under that umbrella of impeachment inquiry.” In a closed-door meeting earlier in the day, she said the panels would put together their best cases on potentially impeachable offenses by the president and send them to the Judiciary Committee, according to two officials familiar with the conversation. That could potentially lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment based on the findings.

The decision to begin a formal impeachment inquiry does not necessarily mean that the House will ultimately vote to charge Mr. Trump with high crimes and misdemeanors — much less that the Republican-controlled Senate will vote to remove him. But Ms. Pelosi and her leadership would not initiate the process unless they were prepared to reach that outcome.

Ms. Pelosi met privately on Tuesday with the leaders of the six key committees involved in investigations of Mr. Trump, and later huddled with the full Democratic caucus. Her announcement came amid a groundswell in favor of impeachment among Democrats that has intensified since late last week, with lawmakers from every corner of her caucus lining up in favor of using the House’s unique power to charge Mr. Trump if the allegations are proved true, or if his administration continues to stonewall attempts by Congress to investigate them.

Westlake Legal Group trump-impeachment-congress-promo-1559334647091-articleLarge-v38 Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Pelosi, Nancy Office of the Director of National Intelligence impeachment House of Representatives Espionage and Intelligence Services Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

Complete List: Who Supports an Impeachment Inquiry Against Trump?

More than two-thirds of House Democrats and one Independent have said they now support impeachment proceedings.

The House Judiciary Committee has been conducting its own impeachment investigation focused on the findings of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as well as allegations that Mr. Trump may be illegally profiting from spending by state and foreign governments and other matters. But that inquiry has never gotten the imprimatur of a full House vote or the full rhetorical backing of the speaker, as Democrats remained divided about the wisdom and political implications of impeaching a president without broader public support.

Now, after the revelation of a conversations between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in which Mr. Trump pressed the foreign leader to investigate the Bidens, a cascading flood of Democrats has come out in favor of a formal impeachment proceeding.

The shift in outlook among Democratic lawmakers has been rapid, and could yet still turn away from impeachment if exculpatory evidence comes to light. The developments that have turned the tide began less that two weeks ago, when Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the Intelligence Committee chairman, first revealed the existence of a secret whistle-blower complaint that the intelligence community’s internal watchdog had deemed “urgent” and credible but that the Trump administration had refused to share with Congress.

Democrats have given Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, until Thursday to turn over the whistle-blower complaint or risk reprisal. And they have threatened to subpoena the Trump administration for a copy of the transcript of the president’s call with Mr. Zelensky and other relevant documents after Thursday if they are not shared voluntarily.

There were also indications the whistle-blower might not wait around for the complaint to be disclosed. Democrats said on Tuesday that a lawyer for the whistle-blower had informed the committee his client wanted to speak with the House and Senate intelligence panels, and had requested directions from the office of the director of national intelligence on how to do so.

Though it has attracted much less fanfare, the Senate Intelligence Committee intends to meet privately with the inspector general and Mr. Maguire this week to discuss the whistle-blower complaint.

Related Coverage
Trump Says He Will Release Transcript of Call With Ukraine’s President

Sept. 24, 2019

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The Impeachment Process, Explained

Sept. 24, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-explainer1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v3 Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Pelosi, Nancy Office of the Director of National Intelligence impeachment House of Representatives Espionage and Intelligence Services Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr
Trump, Biden and a Whistle-Blower Complaint: Here Are the Basics

Sept. 21, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 21dc-whistleblowerqa-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump Whistle-Blowers United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Pelosi, Nancy Office of the Director of National Intelligence impeachment House of Representatives Espionage and Intelligence Services Elections, House of Representatives Democratic Party Biden, Joseph R Jr

Jonathan Martin contributed reporting from Los Angeles.

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Trump Celebrates Nationalism in U.N. Speech and Plays Down Iran Crisis

President Trump delivered a sharp nationalist message and assailed “globalists” in remarks to the world’s leading international body on Tuesday, while taking a notably moderate line on Iranian aggression in the Middle East.

“If you want freedom, hold on to your sovereignty, and if you want peace, love your nation,” Mr. Trump said, as he called for stronger borders and new controls on migration. “The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots. The future belongs to sovereign and independent nations.”

The United Nations was founded in 1945 to foster international cooperation and understanding after the nationalist fervor that had plunged the globe into World War II. But Mr. Trump, who spoke in a flat monotone, stressed the value of national identity and argued that governments must defend their “history, culture and heritage.”

“The free world must embrace its national foundations,” Mr. Trump said. “It must not attempt to erase them or replace them.”

Just as notable as his challenge to many of the world body’s principles was what Mr. Trump did not say. Before an audience that had been primed for him to focus on attacks on Saudi oil facilities that the United States has said Iran was behind, Mr. Trump said relatively little about the Sept. 14 strikes. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo labeled the attacks, which rattled global energy markets, “an act of war.”

Likely to the relief of his audience, which included European leaders who have been scrambling to find a way to avert conflict with Iran over its nuclear program, Mr. Trump did not repeat that bellicose phrase. Instead, he reiterated the distaste for military conflict he has demonstrated since he first ran for president. “Many of our friends today were once our greatest foes,” Mr. Trump said. “The United States has never believed in permanent enemies. America knows that while anyone can make war, only the most courageous can choose peace.”

“America’s goal is not to go with these endless wars, wars that never end,” he added.

Mr. Trump offered the world leaders and diplomats gathered before him little in the way of a clear path forward on how to deal with Iran, and largely repeated prior broad-stroke complaints about Iran’s “menacing behavior.”

He was rewarded with respectful applause when he finished, but none at all during the speech itself.

Mr. Trump’s speech also restated his hope that diplomacy can denuclearize North Korea; he vowed to seek peace in Afghanistan even as America continues to fight the Taliban; and he again condemned the “socialist” dictatorship in Venezuela.

But his strikingly pat language on Iran appeared to be part of an effort to tamp down expectations of a strong American response in defense of the Saudis, a key Middle East ally.

Instead, Mr. Trump called on Iran to give freedom to its people and engage in new talks with the United States.

Overall, the speech reaffirmed Mr. Trump’s belief in the ideas of nationalism and sovereignty that have fueled the rise of populist leaders across the world. It also bore the hallmarks of his policy adviser and speechwriter Stephen Miller, who has helped to push cultural and racial themes to the front of Mr. Trump’s agenda.

At a body that has been a champion of refugees and migrants, Mr. Trump offered a firm defense of strong borders at home and abroad.

“Many of the countries here today are coping with the challenges of uncontrolled migration,” he said. “Each of you has the absolute right to protect your borders. And so, of course, does our country.”

Mr. Trump also took explicit aim at the power of the United Nations, noting with pride that he has refused to ratify an international arms trade treaty sponsored by the body. “There’s no circumstance under which the United States will allow international entities to trample on the rights of our citizens, including the right to self-defense,” Mr. Trump said.

He assailed another international body, the World Trade Organization, saying that it had failed to check what he described as abusive Chinese economic practices for years. And he complained that a network of global elites had turned a blind eye to China’s behavior.

“For years, these abuses were tolerated, ignored or even encouraged,” Mr. Trump said. “Globalism exerted a religious pull over past leaders, causing them to ignore their own national interests. But as far as America is concerned, those days are over.”

Mr. Trump’s language about efforts to “replace” the foundations of national cultures bore echoes of the “great replacement” theory propounded by the French writer Renaud Camus, who has warned that European culture is being diluted by migrants from places like the Middle East and North Africa. The phrase “great replacement” has been adopted by many in the white nationalist movement, although it is unclear whether Mr. Trump intended such an allusion.

Just a week ago, it seemed certain that Mr. Trump would make the attack on the Saudis the central element of his United Nations speech. Not only did Mr. Pompeo call the attack an “act of war,” but military officials were at one point in the Situation Room offering military and cyberattack options to respond. Mr. Trump made no reference to any of those, and did not seek any kind of endorsement for the need for a response beyond a tightening of sanctions.

Earlier this week, Richard Fontaine, the chief executive of the Center for a New American Security and longtime Republican foreign policy aide, noted: “Not so long ago, a devastating attack on Saudi oil supplies would almost certainly have elicited an American military response. Ensuring the continued flow of energy from the Middle East was widely seen as crucial, one of the vital American interests that nearly all policymakers believed worth defending.”

But he noted that “fracking and reduced U.S. dependence on Middle East oil, the exhaustion and caution borne by two decades of American wars, a new focus on great-power competition, and the complexities of recent diplomacy with Iran have changed all this to a degree.”

Iran has denied responsibility for the attack, and Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are armed by Iran, have taken credit. But Trump officials say they are certain that Iran was responsible.

In the days since that attack, Mr. Trump has alternated between threats of fierce military action and calls for patience and restraint.

An American military response could escalate the conflict with potentially devastating consequences for the global economy, which is powered by a Middle Eastern oil flow that Iran can easily disrupt.

Speaking to reporters shortly before his remarks, Mr. Trump projected confidence about the standoff with Tehran, saying that “Iran is coming along very well. We’re in very good shape with respect to Iran.”

As Trump Takes the U.N. Stage, an Eye on Troubles Back Home

Sept. 24, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-prexy-sub-threeByTwoSmallAt2X-v2 Trump Celebrates Nationalism in U.N. Speech and Plays Down Iran Crisis United States International Relations United Nations Trump, Donald J Saudi Arabia Iran International Relations Immigration and Emigration Defense and Military Forces
What’s Happened So Far at the U.N. General Assembly

Sept. 24, 2019

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The Impeachment Process, Explained

WASHINGTON — Talk among House Democrats of impeaching President Trump has sharply escalated amid the dispute over Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his potential 2020 rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

While many House Democrats from safe seats have been calling to impeach Mr. Trump for months, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been reluctant lest such a move endanger members from moderate districts — including newly elected Democrats who won previously Republican seats in the 2018 midterm.

But the Trump-Ukraine affair — including the Trump administration’s refusal to share with Congress a whistle-blower complaint about the matter — may be shifting that calculus.

Ms. Pelosi, in a letter to House Democrats on Sunday, said that if the Trump administration continues to cover up the complaint, “they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation.” And in an opinion column published in The Washington Post on Tuesday, seven freshmen Democrats said the allegations, if proven, warranted removing Mr. Trump from office.

“To uphold and defend our Constitution, Congress must determine whether the president was indeed willing to use his power and withhold security assistance funds to persuade a foreign country to assist him in an upcoming election,” they wrote. “If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense.”

The rising furor has heightened interest in how the impeachment process works. Here’s what you need to know:

The Constitution permits Congress to remove presidents before their term is up if enough lawmakers vote to say that they committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Only three presidents have been subjected to impeachment proceedings. Two were impeached — Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 — but ultimately acquitted and completed their terms in office. A third, Richard M. Nixon, resigned in 1974 to avoid being impeached.

The term “high crimes and misdemeanor” came out of the British common law tradition: it was the sort of offense that Parliament cited in removing crown officials for centuries. Essentially, it means an abuse of power by a high-level public official. This does not necessarily have to be a violation of an ordinary criminal statute.

In 1788, as supporters of the Constitution were urging states to ratify the document, Alexander Hamilton described impeachable crimes in one of the Federalist Papers as “those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

In both the Nixon and the Clinton cases, the House Judiciary Committee first held an investigation and recommended articles of impeachment to the full House. In theory, however, the House of Representatives could instead set up a special panel to handle the proceedings — or just hold a floor vote on such articles without any committee vetting them.

When the full House votes on articles of impeachment, if at least one gets a majority vote, the president is impeached — which is essentially the equivalent of being indicted.

Next, the proceedings move to the Senate, which is to hold a trial overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

A team of lawmakers from the House, known as managers, play the role of prosecutors. The president has defense lawyers, and the Senate serves as the jury.

If at least two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed, and the vice president takes over as president.

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Representative Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has claimed that the panel is already engaged in an impeachment investigation.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

This has been a subject of dispute. During the Nixon and Clinton impeachment efforts, the full House voted for resolutions directing the House Judiciary Committee to open the inquiries. But it is not clear whether that step is strictly necessary, because impeachment proceedings against other officials, like a former federal judge in 1989, began at the committee level.

The House Judiciary Committee, led by Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, has claimed — including in court filings — that the panel is already engaged in an impeachment investigation. Mr. Trump’s Justice Department has argued that since there has been no House resolution, the committee is just engaged in a routine oversight proceeding.

Whether or not it is necessary, it has not been clear whether a resolution to formally start an impeachment inquiry would pass a House vote. Currently, The New York Times counts 161 members who say they favor impeachment proceedings, 75 who say they oppose them or are undecided, and 199 who have not responded to the question.

There are no set rules. Rather, the Senate passes a resolution first laying out trial procedures.

“When the Senate decided what the rules were going to be for our trial, they really made them up as they went along,” Gregory B. Craig, who helped defend Mr. Clinton in his impeachment proceeding and later served as White House counsel to President Barack Obama, told The Times in 2017.

For example, Mr. Craig said, the initial rules in that case gave Republican managers four days to make a case for conviction, followed by four days for the president’s legal team to defend him. These were essentially opening statements. The Senate then decided whether to hear witnesses, and if so, whether it would be live or on videotape. Eventually, the Senate permitted each side to depose several witnesses by videotape.

The rules adopted by the Senate in the Clinton trial — including ones limiting the number of witnesses and the length of depositions — made it harder to prove a case compared with trials in federal court, said former Representative Bob Barr, Republican of Georgia who served as a House manager during the trial and is also a former United States attorney.

“Impeachment is a creature unto itself,” Mr. Barr said. “The jury in a criminal case doesn’t set the rules for a case and can’t decide what evidence they want to see and what they won’t.”

The Constitution does not specify many, making impeachment and removal as much a question of political will as of legal analysis.

For example, the Constitution does not detail how lawmakers may choose to interpret what does or does not constitute impeachable “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Similarly, there is no established standard of proof that must be met.

The Constitution clearly envisions that if the House impeaches a federal official, the Senate is then supposed to proceed to holding a trial. But there is no obvious enforcement mechanism if Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, were to simply refuse to convene one — just as he refused to permit a confirmation hearing and vote on Mr. Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2016.

Still Walter Dellinger, a Duke University law professor and a former acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration, said it is unclear whether it would be Mr. McConnell or Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. who wields the authority to convene the Senate for the purpose of considering House-passed articles of impeachment.

Either way, though, he noted that the Republican majority in the Senate could vote to immediately dismiss the case without any consideration of the evidence if it wanted.

To date, Senate Republicans have given no indication that they would break with Mr. Trump, especially in numbers sufficient to remove him from office. In their internal debate about what to do, some Democrats have argued that this political reality means that they should instead focus on trying to beat him in the 2020 election, on the theory that an acquittal in the Senate might backfire by strengthening him politically. Others have argued that impeaching him is a moral necessity to deter future presidents from acting like Mr. Trump, even if Senate Republicans are likely to keep him in office.

In that same Federalist Paper written in 1788, Mr. Hamilton wrote that the inherently political nature of impeachment proceedings would be sure to polarize the country.

Their prosecution, he wrote, “will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

Intelligence Whistle-Blower Law, Explained

Sept. 20, 2019

Westlake Legal Group merlin_141689673_d480a713-0bd4-429c-9b66-8c24002ba49f-threeByTwoSmallAt2X The Impeachment Process, Explained United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Presidents and Presidency (US) impeachment House of Representatives Ethics and Official Misconduct Democratic Party Constitution (US) Biden, Joseph R Jr
As Trump Confirms He Discussed Biden With Ukraine, Pressure to Impeach Builds

Sept. 22, 2019

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Raising Prospect of Impeaching Trump, House Seeks Mueller’s Grand Jury Secrets

July 26, 2019

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Joe Biden Will Back Impeachment if Trump Does Not Comply With Congress

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will call on Tuesday for impeachment proceedings against President Trump if the president does not comply with congressional requests for information related to Ukraine and other investigations.

In a speech scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden will “make the point that Trump’s latest abuses are on top of all of his prior abuses,” a campaign aide said. The aide said that Mr. Biden would call on the president to comply with “all of Congress’s outstanding, lawful requests for information — in the Ukraine matter and in other investigations — and if Trump does not comply, Congress has no choice but to impeach.”

Several other presidential candidates, including Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California, have already called for impeachment. Ms. Warren has been particularly forceful, accusing Congress of shirking its constitutional responsibilities.

“After the Mueller report, Congress had a duty to begin impeachment,” Ms. Warren tweeted on Friday. “By failing to act, Congress is complicit in Trump’s latest attempt to solicit foreign interference to aid him in US elections. Do your constitutional duty and impeach the president.”

During a news conference in Davenport, Iowa, on Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont also called on the Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment inquiry. But he stopped short of directly calling for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

“What the Congress must do is keep its eyes focused on the needs of the working people of this country as it goes forward with the impeachment inquiry and the likely impeachment of Donald Trump,” he said. “Enough is enough, and today I hope very much that the Judiciary Committee will go forward with an impeachment inquiry.”

Mr. Biden has not unequivocally supported impeachment, though in the spring he said Congress would have “no alternative” to impeaching if it determined Mr. Trump was trying to impede investigations into Russian election interference.

In the House, the recent reports that Mr. Trump pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Mr. Biden’s son Hunter and his financial dealings with a Ukrainian natural gas company have led many previously reluctant Democrats to support impeachment proceedings.

A series of moderate lawmakers, including freshmen from swing districts, have gotten on board this week, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi will meet Tuesday afternoon with committee leaders who have led investigations of the president.

Mr. Trump spoke to the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, shortly after he froze military aid to the country, which is battling Russian-controlled separatists. At the United Nations on Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump said he had held up the aid because other European countries had not paid enough to support Ukraine. He released the aid under pressure from Congress after the delay was publicly reported.

Mr. Biden’s campaign has said his son did nothing wrong in Ukraine. He has accused the president of abusing his power to extract a “political favor.”

The controversy erupted last week with reports that a whistle-blower had filed a complaint about Mr. Trump’s dealings with a foreign government.

Mr. Trump acknowledged on Sunday that he had discussed Mr. Biden in a July phone call with Mr. Zelensky. On Tuesday, he said on Twitter that he had authorized the release of the transcript of the call. His administration is refusing to provide the full whistle-blower complaint to Congress.

Katie Glueck and Sydney Ember contributed reporting.

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Trump Says He Will Release Transcript of Call With Ukraine’s President

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President Trump said on Tuesday that he will release the transcript of his July phone call with the Ukrainian president in an effort to quell the controversy over whether he pressed for Kiev to investigate a political rival.

Mr. Trump insisted that the call was “totally appropriate” and pledged to release its full text on Wednesday.

While the July transcript will answer some questions, the call is only one aspect of Mr. Trump’s dealings with the Ukrainians that have come under scrutiny in recent days. A whistle-blower complaint that the administration has blocked lawmakers from seeing is said to deal at least in part with Ukraine and cover multiple actions.

Mr. Trump said earlier that he held up American aid to Ukraine that has become the subject of scrutiny because European countries have not paid their fair share to support the country, and pointed to the fact that the money was eventually released as evidence that he had done nothing wrong.

The funds were frozen before Mr. Trump pressed the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate a leading Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

He also said that a groundswell for his impeachment among Democratic lawmakers amounted to a new “witch hunt.”

“I’m leading in the polls and they have no idea how to stop me,” Mr. Trump said, addressing reporters minutes before his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly. The president trails the leading Democratic candidates in most polls. “The only way they can try is through impeachment,” he added.

The $391 million aid package in question was provided to Ukraine for its defense against a Russian-backed separatist insurgency in its east which has left more than 13,000 people dead over the past five years.

Mr. Trump also noted that the funds allocated for Ukraine “were fully paid,” although he did not mention the fact that his administration acted only after the delay became public through news media leaks, and under bipartisan pressure from Congress.

He also did not mention that he had changed his explanation for withholding the money from just a day before. On Monday, he linked his decision to block the aid to his concerns about corruption in Ukraine, citing Mr. Biden as an example. By emphasizing instead his overall concern about foreign aid, he was advancing a rationale less tied to his demand for an investigation.

Mr. Trump earlier repeated his assertion that the transcript would exonerate him.

“When you see the call, when you see the readout of the call, which I assume you’ll see at some point, you’ll understand that call was perfect,” he said.

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As Trump Takes the U.N. Stage, an Eye on Troubles Back Home

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The word “Ukraine” never passed President Trump’s lips as he addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, but it would be fair to assume that it was on his mind and those of many others in the chamber and far beyond it.

While the president took the rostrum as leader of “the world’s most powerful nation,” as he put it, his domestic position was under attack as momentum for impeachment was building amid revelations about his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate his leading Democratic rival.

The split-screen day highlighted a moment of renewed jeopardy for a president who has survived one scandal after another only to find himself back in trouble over his dealings with a foreign power. His speech underscored once again his virulent opposition to globalism, but his latest challenge at home underscored once again how much he has relied on help from overseas to win elections.

Recognizing the political threat, and perhaps even welcoming the fight, Mr. Trump made a point of taking on the matter of Ukraine before entering the hall in the morning, confirming to reporters that he held up American aid to Ukraine shortly before calling its new president to seek damaging information about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Trump asserted that he blocked the $391 million in assistance, even though it had been allocated by Congress, because European countries have not paid their fair share to support Ukraine. He pointed to the fact that the money was eventually released as evidence that he did nothing wrong. What he did not mention was that he released the money only after senators from both parties threatened punitive legislation if he did not.

What he also did not say was that he had changed his explanation for withholding the money from just a day before. On Monday, he linked his decision to block the aid to his concerns about corruption in Ukraine, citing Mr. Biden as an example. By emphasizing instead his overall concern about foreign aid, he was advancing a rationale less tied to his demand for an investigation.

Pushing back against the rising groundswell for his impeachment among Democratic lawmakers, the president called it a new “witch hunt,” an extension of the long-running special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election on his behalf that ended without sufficient evidence to establish a criminal conspiracy.

“I’m leading in the polls and they have no idea how to stop me,” Mr. Trump said “The only way they can try is through impeachment.”

In fact, Mr. Trump is trailing Mr. Biden and other Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in most polls, which is why his critics say he was so intent on obtaining dirt from Ukraine on the former vice president.

The $391 million aid package in question was approved by Congress to aid Ukraine against a Russian-backed separatist insurgency in its east that has left more than 13,000 people dead over the past five years. Mr. Trump has offered mixed messages about his interest in helping Ukraine; at one point, he shipped defensive weapons that President Barack Obama had refused to send, but he has also suggested that Russia’s continuing intervention in Ukraine was not worth isolating Moscow.

Russia was another topic that did not come up in the United Nations speech; he passed up the opportunity to talk about the Kremlin’s provocative actions in Europe and the Middle East or its crackdown on dissent at home. While he talked about China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Afghanistan and other hot spots around the world, he kept mum on the former Soviet Union.

The furor over Ukraine came as Mr. Trump conducts a series of speed dating-style quick meetings with various world leaders on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly session, including with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, who was hobbled by his own domestic political problems.

But the meeting almost sure to be most watched is scheduled for Wednesday with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, the first in-person between the two leaders. It was Mr. Trump’s telephone call with Mr. Zelensky on July 25 congratulating him on his inauguration that has triggered the latest threat to Mr. Trump’s presidency.

By his own admission, Mr. Trump raised Mr. Biden and accused him of corruption during the call with Mr. Zelensky. Others familiar with the call said the president pressed Mr. Zelensky repeatedly to investigate Mr. Biden on unsubstantiated allegations, but added that Mr. Trump did not directly tie the frozen American aid to his request during their conversation.

Democrats and some Republicans have called on Mr. Trump to release a transcript of that call, which he has expressed reluctance to do. But on Tuesday, he seemed to suggest that he would eventually make it public.

“When you see the call, when you see the readout of the call, which I assume you’ll see at some point, you’ll understand that call was perfect,” he told reporters.

As Mr. Trump spends the rest of his day huddling with leaders from India and Iraq, lunching with the United Nations secretary general and meeting on the Middle East, he and his team will keep one eye on Washington. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is convening the entire House Democratic caucus to talk about impeachment. Mr. Biden is planning to make a statement in the afternoon, as well.

By the time he hosts a diplomatic reception in the evening, Mr. Trump may know more about where his presidency will be going in the days and weeks to come.

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Trump, at U.N., Blames Europe for His Delay of Ukraine Aid

Westlake Legal Group 24dc-prexy-promo-facebookJumbo-v3 Trump, at U.N., Blames Europe for His Delay of Ukraine Aid United States Politics and Government Ukraine Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 impeachment General Assembly (UN)

President Trump said Tuesday that he held up American aid to Ukraine that has become the subject of furious controversy because European countries have not paid their fair share to support the country, and pointed to the fact that the money was eventually released as evidence that he had done nothing wrong.

The funds were frozen before Mr. Trump pressed the new Ukrainian president to investigate a leading Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

He also said that a groundswell for his impeachment among Democratic lawmakers amounted to a new “witch hunt.”

“I’m leading in the polls and they have no idea how to stop me,” Mr. Trump said, though the president trails the leading Democratic candidates in most polls. “The only way they can try is through impeachment.”

The $391 million aid package in question was provided to Ukraine for its defense against a Russian-backed separatist insurgency in its east which has left more than 13,000 people dead over the past five years.

Mr. Trump also noted that the funds allocated for Ukraine “were fully paid,” although he did not mention the fact that his administration acted only after the delay became public through news media leaks, and under bipartisan pressure from Congress.

And he suggested that a transcript of his July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, whose release many Democrats have insisted on, would become public. Mr. Trump repeated his assertion that the transcript would exonerate him.

“When you see the call, when you see the readout of the call, which I assume you’ll see at some point, you’ll understand that call was perfect,” he said.

Mr. Trump addressed reporters minutes before his annual address to the United Nations General Assembly, where he is expected to focus on Iran at a moment of crisis in the Persian Gulf, that has escalated in the wake of drone and missile strikes on key Saudi oil facilities earlier this month. Iran has denied responsibility for the attack, and Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are supplied by Iran, have taken credit. But Trump officials say they are certain that Iran was responsible.

In the days since that attack, which shook global energy markets, Mr. Trump has alternated between threats of fierce military action and calls for patience and restraint. An American military response could escalate the conflict with potentially devastating consequences for the global economy, which is powered by a Middle Eastern oil flow that Iran can easily disrupt. Mr. Trump is considering a range of retaliatory options, including cyberattacks. Mr. Trump projected confidence about the standoff with Tehran, telling reporters that “Iran is coming along very well. We’re in very good shape with respect to Iran.”

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House Barrels Toward Impeachment Decisions as Democratic Resistance Crumbles

WASHINGTON — House Democrats hurtled on Tuesday toward a consequential set of decisions about the potential impeachment of President Trump, weighing a course that could reshape his presidency amid startling allegations that he sought to enlist a foreign power to aid him politically.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, who has stubbornly resisted a rush to impeachment, appeared to be rapidly changing course, as lawmakers from every corner of her caucus lined up in favor of filing formal charges against Mr. Trump if the allegations are proven true, or if his administration continues to stonewall attempts by Congress to investigate them.

“We will be making announcements later,” she told reporters in the Capitol, declining to discuss her views on impeachment.

One possibility was the formation of a special committee — reminiscent of the one created in 1973 to investigate the Watergate scandal — to look into the president’s dealings with Ukraine and to potentially lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment based on the findings.

Ms. Pelosi planned a meeting Tuesday afternoon to coordinate strategy with the six committee chairmen who have led the investigations of Mr. Trump, followed by a broader closed-door meeting of all of the chamber’s Democrats to brief them and gauge their mood in light of the changed circumstances.

Calls for impeachment have mounted, with a growing list of vulnerable moderates — until now the chief skeptics of the move — stating that they believed articles of impeachment would be the only recourse if reports about attempts by Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer to push Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son were true.

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Full List: Who Supports an Impeachment Inquiry Against Trump?

More than two-thirds of House Democrats and one Independent have said they now support impeachment proceedings.

“The first responsibility of the president of the United States is to keep our country safe, but it has become clear that our president has placed his personal interests above the national security of our nation,” Representative Antonio Delgado, Democrat of New York and one of the party’s most politically vulnerable freshman moderates, wrote on Tuesday. “I believe articles of impeachment are warranted.”

Progressives, including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a leading Democratic candidate for president, demanded even faster action. “It must start today,” she said of impeachment.

Mr. Trump, in New York for his second day of diplomatic meetings at the United Nations, dismissed the effort as a desperate political ploy by Democrats, and continued to maintain he had done nothing wrong.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “It’s a witch hunt. I’m leading in the polls. They have no idea how they stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment. This has never happened to a president before.”

House Republicans’ campaign arm blasted out a statement predicting Democrats would be ensuring the end of their House majority if they followed through.

The shift in outlook among Democratic lawmakers has been rapid, and could yet still turn away from impeachment if exculpatory evidence comes to light. The developments that have turned the tide began less that two weeks ago, when Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the Intelligence Committee chairman, first revealed the existence of a secretive whistle-blower complaint that the intelligence community’s internal watchdog had deemed “urgent” and credible but that the Trump administration had refused to share with Congress.

That complaint remains secret, and lawmakers are fighting to see it, but news reports have established that the complaint was related, at least in part, to a July call between Mr. Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in which Mr. Trump pressed the foreign leader to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter, for corruption.

Just days earlier, Mr. Trump had ordered his staff to freeze more than $391 million in aid to Ukraine. While Mr. Trump denies having explicitly linked the two issues, lawmakers believe they are connected and have demanded documentation that could clarify the situation. And whether or not the military funding factored in, the documents could shed light on whether and how the president tried to pressure a foreign leader to help him tarnish a political rival, actions that many Democrats argued on Tuesday would be impeachable on their own.

The campaign of Mr. Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, announced he would make a midafternoon statement from Wilmington, Del. on the whistle-blower complaint and what it called “President Trump’s ongoing abuse of power.”

The House Judiciary Committee has been conducting its own impeachment investigation focused on the findings of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as well as on allegations that Mr. Trump may be illegally profiting from spending by state and foreign governments, and other matters. But that inquiry has never gotten the imprimatur of a full House vote or the full rhetorical backing of the speaker, as Democrats remained divided about the wisdom and political implications of impeaching a president without broader public support.

What exactly a full impeachment process might look like, if it does go forward, remained unclear early on Tuesday. It may hinge significantly on what comes of a pair of deadlines on Thursday. Democrats have given Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, until then to turn over the whistle-blower complaint or risk reprisal. And they have threatened to subpoena the Trump administration for a copy of the transcript of the president’s call with Mr. Zelensky and other relevant documents after Thursday if they are not shared voluntarily.

A select committee would not necessarily grant lawmakers any new fact-finding power. Existing standing committees of the House already have the power to issue subpoenas and set rules of procedure as they see fit. A senior Democratic aide said late Monday that no decision had been made about setting up such a committee. But at least some of Ms. Pelosi’s advisers where pushing for one, arguing that the process would benefit from a small, staff-driven panel that could make a messy political investigation as professional-looking as possible, one of the advisers said on Tuesday.

Creating a special committee would allow Ms. Pelosi to handpick its Democratic members — a potentially attractive prospect to a speaker who has second-guessed the work of the Judiciary Committee, where impeachment proceedings typically play out. Lawmakers who have discussed the idea routinely raise Mr. Schiff, a close ally of the speaker, as a potential chairman.

Whatever Ms. Pelosi and her leadership team decide, it appeared increasingly likely she would face little internal resistance from her caucus, as moderates and progressives, first-term lawmakers and seasoned veterans and others agreed the time had come to move toward impeachment.

Representative Haley Stevens, Democrat of Michigan and another freshman who flipped a Republican seat last fall, said early Monday that “if investigations confirm recent reports, these actions represent impeachable offenses that threaten to undermine the integrity of our elections and jeopardize the balance of power within the federal government.” Representative Lizzie Fletcher, Democrat of Texas, who defeated a Republican last year to win her Houston-area district, said just the facts that Mr. Trump has already confirmed represent “a gross abuse of power.”

“The House of Representatives should act swiftly to investigate and should be prepared to use the remedy exclusively in its power: impeachment,” Ms. Fletcher said.

In a sign of where Ms. Pelosi may be headed herself, some of her closest allies who had been previously reluctant to back impeachment are shifting their positions, including Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, who said late Monday that impeachment “may be the only recourse Congress has if the president is enlisting foreign assistance in the 2020 election.”

In the Senate, where Republicans hold a majority, Democrats said they would try to bring up a nonbinding resolution directing the administration to turn over the whistle-blower complaint to the congressional intelligence committees. It was an effort to force Republicans to either break with the Trump administration and join them in calling for the release of the material, or go on the record in favor of blocking its disclosure.

Jonathan Martin contributed reporting from Los Angeles.

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