Afterward, he said Democrats were trying to “Impeach me over NOTHING,” and setting a damaging precedent.
“This will mean that the beyond important and seldom used act of Impeachment will be used routinely to attack future Presidents,” he tweeted. “That is not what our Founders had in mind.”
The White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said Democrats had “clearly abused their power,” “lied to the American people,” and “made a mockery of the law.” And Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Republican leader, said Thursday was “not a day that history will be proud of.”
Ms. Pelosi limited advance notice of her announcement to a tight circle of advisers, but there have been clear signs this week that Democrats were preparing to move forward with impeachment articles. On Wednesday, after the legal scholars told the Judiciary Committee the facts of the case met the standards for impeachment, the committee’s chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, said explicitly that Mr. Trump’s conduct fit his three-part test for impeachment, and indicated his panel would press ahead with that in mind.
In saying that she was instructing “chairmen” to draft the charges, Ms. Pelosi left open the possibility that the other five panels that have investigated Mr. Trump and his administration — including the Intelligence Committee that drew up the Ukraine report and the Ways and Means Committee that has pressed for the release of the president’s tax returns — could also play roles, a break with past practice.
During her news conference, Ms. Pelosi framed the case against Mr. Trump as much broader than an isolated pressure campaign on Ukraine. She described an “aha moment” when she and other Democrats came to the conclusion that Mr. Trump’s treatment of Ukraine was part of a larger pattern of deference toward Russia, a leading American adversary.
“This isn’t about Ukraine; this is about Russia, who benefited by our withholding of that military assistance,” Ms. Pelosi said. “So sometimes people say, ‘Well, I don’t know about Ukraine, I don’t know that much about Ukraine.’ Well, our adversary is Russia. All roads lead to Putin. Understand that.”