By The Washington Post · John Wagner ·
"We must be clear: No one, not even the president, is above the law," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said at a news conference. He was flanked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other House leaders.
At the heart of the Democrats' case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
"The evidence of the president's misconduct is overwhelming and uncontested," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said as he outlined a case against Trump and argued that his conduct was too grave to let stand until next year's election.
"The argument, 'why don't you just wait?' comes down to this: Why don't you just let him cheat in just one more election?" Schiff said, calling impeachment "a question of duty."
The Democratic leaders left the news conference without taking questions. The Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the articles - the equivalent of a formal charge - on Thursday, and the full House is expected to vote next week.
A narrower focus on two articles of impeachment means Democrats will forgo laying out allegations of possible obstruction of justice as depicted in former special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference.
Some lawmakers, particularly on the House Judiciary Committee, had been pushing leadership to include obstruction of justice as a third charge, arguing that a focus on Ukraine alone would not establish a pattern of corrupt behavior stemming from the White House.
Moderate Democrats, however, were wary of voting on charges that Trump obstructed justice since Mueller's report was inconclusive on whether the president violated the law. Justice Department rules prohibit the indictment of a sitting president, one of the reasons Mueller said it was up to Congress to decide whether Trump violated his oath.
Those moderate concerns won out in the end. However, several Democrats said it was possible that the articles could mention some of Mueller's findings to try to show Trump's actions on Ukraine did not occur in a vacuum.
The Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the articles - the equivalent of a formal charge - on Thursday, and the full House is expected to vote next week.
Shortly before the announcement of articles of impeachment, Pelosi tweeted that Trump had "used the power of his office against a foreign country to corrupt our upcoming elections."
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale contended Tuesday that Democrats are pushing for impeachment of Trump because they don't have a candidate who can beat him at the ballot box in November.
"For months, Nancy Pelosi said she wouldn't move forward on impeachment because it was too divisive and it needed bipartisan support," Parscale said in a statement released shortly after Pelosi joined other Democrats in announcing the articles of impeachment.
"Well, it is divisive and only the Democrats are pushing it, but she's doing it anyway," Parscale said. "Americans don't agree with this rank partisanship, but Democrats are putting on this political theater because they don't have a viable candidate for 2020 and they know it."
In a separate statement, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called the articles of impeachment "yet another partisan attempt to overthrow a duly-elected President and rob voters of the chance to re-elect him in 2020."
Before the news conference, Trump attacked House Democrats, saying they were engaged in "sheer Political Madness" as they prepared to unveil articles of impeachment against him that are expected to focus on abuse of power and obstructing Congress.