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.”
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. Mr. Trump could become only the fourth president in American history to face impeachment. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached but later acquitted by the Senate. President Richard M. Nixon resigned in the face of a looming House impeachment vote.
这番表态是众议院民主党人数月来谨言慎行之后的一个惊人转变，对于是否使用这一终极补救措施应对他们所谓总统明目张胆的不当行为，民主党一直存在分歧。此举开启了美国政治生活一个非同寻常的新篇章，可能会割裂一个分歧深重的国家，重塑特朗普的总统任期和这个国家的政治，并给总统及决定权衡是否让他下台的民主党人带来重重风险。特朗普可能成为美国现代史上第四位面临弹劾的总统。此前安德鲁·约翰逊（Andrew Johnson）和比尔·克林顿（Bill Clinton）都曾遭到弹劾，但被参议院宣判无罪。理查德·M·尼克松（Richard M. Nixon）在众议院举行弹劾表决前辞职。
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.
有指控称，特朗普向乌克兰总统施压，对民主党总统提名的主要竞争者、前副总统小约瑟夫·R·拜登（Joseph R. Biden Jr.）和他的儿子展开贪腐调查。谈话内容据信是特朗普政府向国会隐瞒的一个举报的一部分。
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.
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.
众议院司法委员一直在进行自己的弹劾调查，他们关注的重点是特别检察官罗伯特·S·穆勒三世（Robert S. Mueller III）的调查结果，以及特朗普可能从州政府和外国政府的支出及其他事项中非法受益的指控。但这项调查从未获得众议院全体投票的批准，也从未得到这位议长的口头全力支持，因为民主党对于缺乏广泛公众支持的情况下弹劾总统是否明智，以及它所带来的政治影响，仍然存在分歧。
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.
民主党议员对前景展望的转变向来是很快的，如果有脱罪证据出现，他们仍有可能放弃弹劾。扭转乾坤的事态发展始于不到两周前，当时，情报委员会主席、加州众议员亚当·B·希夫（Adam B. Schiff）首先披露，目前存在一个情报部门的内部监督机构认为“紧急”和可信的秘密检举，但特朗普政府拒绝与国会分享。
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.