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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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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