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Citing ‘love for America,’ Pelosi formally requests articles of impeachment

On Thursday, a day after the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from four law professors on the legal basis for impeaching President Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally requested the committee chair proceed with articles of impeachment. She said "the facts are uncontested,” while Trump called the inquiry a “big, fat hoax.” Lisa Desjardins reports and joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The next stage of the impeachment process against President Trump is at hand. Word came today that the presentation of evidence will take place on Monday, with the formal crafting of articles of impeachment to follow immediately.

    Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    At a Capitol podium reserved for the most formal or profound moments, the speaker of the House made her announcement.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:

    The facts are uncontested. The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit, at the expense of our national security.

    Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and heart a full of love for America, today, I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Speaker Pelosi said the president's actions have left lawmakers no choice.

    But hours after returning from a NATO summit in Europe, President Trump had a few words about impeachment.

  • President Donald Trump:

    It's a big, fat hoax.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    He was more verbal on Twitter, writing earlier in the day: "If you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast," saying he wants to move to a Senate trial.

    And on the Senate floor, a key player in any future trial, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined the president in lashing out at Democrats' process.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

    American families deserve better than this partisan paralysis, where Democrats literally obsess over impeachment and obstruct everything else.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said Democrats have not proven their case.

  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.:

    That this is so divisive, you need something overwhelming, you need something compelling, and it doesn't meet the criteria. The party means more to them than the country.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Republicans have pushed the idea that Democrats are acting out of anger.

    That led to another remarkable moment today. As Speaker Pelosi left her weekly news conference, a reporter asked if she hates the president.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi:

    I don't hate anybody.

  • Question:

    Representative Collins — reason I asked…

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi:

    I don't — I was raised in a Catholic house. We don't hate anybody, not anybody in the world.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Pelosi stopped in her tracks and firmly said impeachment is not personal.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi:

    This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the president's violation of his oath of office. And, as a Catholic, I resent, your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me.

    So, don't mess with me when it comes to words like that.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Partisan lines and powerful sentiments will keep mounting.

    Next, the House Judiciary Committee plans a hearing Monday to look at the evidence for impeachment and the 300-page report about that evidence from the House Intelligence Committee.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now to help walk us through what's next for Congress and its impeachment inquiry, Lisa joins me.

    So, Lisa, as you said, they're holding this hearing on Monday. How is it going to be different? What do we expect?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Let's talk about this.

    This could be the most substantial hearing that we see before articles of impeachment come out.

    So, let's talk about this. First, this is what we're going to see, presentation of the Democrats' impeachment report from the House Intelligence Committee. There will be witnesses who will be staff counsel, Republican and Democratic counsel. We don't know yet how many or exactly who. And both sides, Republicans and Democrats, will both be able to question those witnesses.

    Essentially, Judy, it's as if a prosecuting team, the counsel for the Democrats, will present their evidence that charges should be brought, impeachment charges, and then the defense team, the Republican counsel, will try and present their arguments that, no, there's not enough evidence for impeachment.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, do we know — they're going to move ahead, so do we know the timing of when the full House would vote?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    No, we don't.

    But I am told that the announcement today doesn't change the timing, that they still seem to be on track for a possible committee vote on articles of impeachment as soon as next week and a possible full House vote the following week.

    I don't know that it is set in stone yet, but that seems to be the track that they remain on. One big question of course, Judy, is still whether the president will participate. If he decides to — and he has until tomorrow night to make that decision, per Democrats' deadline — that will change the timeline, because he can try and ask for witnesses, all of those things.

    Will he want to participate? I spoke to Kevin McCarthy, just asked him personally, will the president participate? McCarthy doesn't usually say yes or no, doesn't give clear answers about the president often. He indicated to me he doesn't think the president should participate.

    To me, that's a strong signal that the president is leaning toward no.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So perhaps he's recommending it?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    He didn't say that. I know he's talking to the president. So I don't know who's recommending what, but he's certainly gauging the temperature at the White House very closely.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What about the Democrats? How unified are they on this? We assume Republicans are still all against it. But what about that?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's right.

    So, if you talk to Democrats, the most interesting group, of course, are those moderates. There are 31 Democrats who are in districts that the president won. I spoke to several of those offices today.

    And where they're at is, they are waiting to see exactly what is in these articles of impeachment. Multiple offices told me it is very possible that they could vote yes on some articles of impeachment, those moderate Democrats, and no on other articles of impeachment when they hit the House floor.

    Nancy Pelosi needs 218 votes for any article of impeachment. We will have to see how they draft them to see if she will get those votes on all of the articles that they present.

    Republicans I'm watching closely too, we will see. If public opinion changes, some Republican votes could peel off as well.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But what she needs is a simple majority at the House?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's correct. At this point, the standard in the Senate is much higher. But, at this point, it's a simple majority.

    Lisa Desjardins, thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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