House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held a closed-door caucus meeting with Democrats yesterday, and while there's no recording of her remarks, the Speaker reportedly asked her party's conference, "Are you ready?"
Pelosi was referring, of course, to the party's preparations to draw articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. Evidently, she was satisfied with her members' response to the question. After several months in which the House Speaker resisted calls for an impeachment inquiry, Pelosi delivered these remarks this morning:
"Our democracy is what is at stake. The president leaves us no choice but to act, because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit."The president has engaged in abuse of power undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections. His actions are in defiance of the vision of our Founders and the oath of office that he takes 'to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'"Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and our hearts full of love for America, today, I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment."
As NBC News' report added, Pelosi's announcement came "one day after the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing in the inquiry in which three of the four witnesses argued that Trump committed impeachable offenses, including in his campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens."
So, what happens now? Members of the Judiciary Committee will proceed with writing some articles of impeachment -- we don't yet know exactly how many -- though Pelosi's reference to "chairmen" suggests it's likely that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) will be involved in the process.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced this morning that his panel will convene again on Monday morning for a hearing "to receive presentations from counsels to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and House Judiciary Committee." The press notice added, "Counsels for the Majority and the Minority will present for their respective Committees."
In effect, both parties' counsels will present their findings, clearing the way for the Judiciary Committee to begin the markup phase -- debating and voting on articles of impeachment -- as early as late next week. (Remember, White House officials were offered an opportunity to present evidence in defense of the president, but so far, they've refused to participate in the process.)
If we assume the committee advances articles -- which seems like a safe bet under the circumstances -- we appear to be on track for a floor vote on impeachment the week before Christmas.
For his part, Donald Trump published some tweets this morning, arguing that Democrats have "gone crazy," and he'd prefer to see them impeach him "fast," just to get it over with.
This, of course, is the opposite of the message we heard from the Republicans' witness at yesterday's hearing: Jonathan Turley urged lawmakers to slow down, not speed up.
Watch this space.
Postscript: At the risk of annoying everyone, I should probably note that current federal funding expires on Friday, Dec. 20. The possibility of a government shutdown and the impeachment fight intersecting is quite real.