U.S. President Donald Trump called the impeachment probe a witch hunt. Picture: Joshua Roberts/Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump called the impeachment probe a witch hunt. Picture: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Nancy Pelosi calls Trump impeachment probe 'very sad' but necessary

By Tim Elfrink Time of article published Nov 1, 2019

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Washington - Stephen Colbert had one question for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about President Donald Trump's conversation with the Ukrainian president that has now become central to an impeachment inquiry: "When you heard what was said in that telephone call, what was your first reaction?"

"I prayed for the United States of America," Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday on "The Late Show." "We don't want to impeach a president. We don't want the reality that a president has done something that is in violation of the Constitution."

In an interview hours after the House passed guidelines for the public portion of the impeachment inquiry, Pelosi deflected criticisms from GOP leaders and the White House about a process she argued is "very sad" but necessary, adding that "no one is above the law, no one, the president of the United States or not."

"This is a sad thing for our country," Pelosi said. "We do this prayerfully, with great seriousness. Nobody goes to Congress to impeach a president."

On Thursday, the House passed a resolution formalising the impeachment inquiry and setting a course for public hearings, as Democrats probe whether Trump abused his power by withholding military aid to Ukraine to pressure for an investigation into a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden.

Despite Colbert's penchant for mocking Trump nearly nightly, Pelosi used her appearance on his show to echo the serious tone she took before the vote, when she called the inquiry "solemn" and argued it was "not cause for any glee or comfort."

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called the inquiry vote a "blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the president," while Trump took to Twitter to decry it as "The Greatest Witch Hunt In American History!" House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., insisted again that "there is nothing in that phone call that is wrong or impeachable."

But on Colbert's show, Pelosi noted that she had long resisted calls for impeachment from her party's left flank.

"I had not been, shall we say, enthusiastic about the divisiveness that would occur from an impeachment," she told Colbert. "I said then he's not worth impeaching because it's only going to divide the country further than he's already divided it."

Her view changed almost immediately after a whistleblower revealed the substance of Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, she said.

"This was something that you could not ignore," she said. "In one conversation, he undermined our national security by withholding military assistance to a country that had been voted on by the Congress of the United States, to the benefit of the Russians, at the same time he jeopardized the integrity of our elections, the heart of our democracy."

Asked when public hearings could begin, Pelosi demurred, answering, "Soon."

The Washington Post

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