More Democrats now lining up for Trump impeachment probe

Posted at 2:12 PM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-24 15:12:10-04

WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats lined up in ever greater numbers Tuesday urging an impeachment probe of President Donald Trump, pushed to action by his phone call with Ukraine's new leader and what Trump may or may not have said about corruption, frozen U.S. millions and Democratic rival Joe Biden. Trump said he would release a transcript of the call on Wednesday.

Attention focused on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has resisted calls for an impeachment inquiry for months. But as more members of her caucus pressed for a probe - including crucial moderates in political swing districts - the speaker planned to huddle with her members late Tuesday afternoon. Advisers said she would make a statement on the path forward at 5 p.m. EDT.

In an appearance ahead of that meeting, Pelosi sidestepped questions about whether she believed Trump's actions were impeachable, but she said it would be wrong for the president to ask a foreign leader for help investigating Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"We don't ask foreign governments to help us in our election," Pelosi said.

An impeachment inquiry into a president in the middle of his reelection campaign is virtually certain to exacerbate the nation's partisan divides. Trump has all but dared Democrats to take that step, confident that the specter of impeachment led by the opposition party would bolster his political support. Pelosi has shared that concern and has spent months trying to hold off liberals in her caucus pushing for impeachment.

At issue is a summer phone call Trump had with Ukraine's president, which came to Congress' attention through a whistleblower complaint. Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong in the call, but has suggested he raised Biden and his son Hunter as part of discussions over corruption in Ukraine - despite no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of either man.

Moments before Pelosi spoke, Trump tweeted that he had authorized the release on Wednesday of a transcript of the call.

"You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call," Trump said.

The identity of the whistleblower is unknown. Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, said Tuesday that the whistleblower wants to speak with the panel and could testify as soon as this week.

Pelosi has been weighing several options in response to the whistleblower complaint, including a vote on some sort of statement of disapproval after the allegations against Trump. Another option would be to create a select committee to deepen the probes of the Trump administration.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler has declared that his committee is already conducting impeachment hearings, but the panel has been unable to get many key witnesses and documents from the Trump administration.