Today, after a tumultuous month of complaints and allegations against President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi finally announced Democratic leadership plans to move forward with a formal impeachment inquiry. In doing so, she addressed the question everyone is asking: Are we actually going to impeach our president?
Over the course of his presidency, Trump has been the subject of countless calls for impeachment — from the Comey investigations in 2017 to the release of the Mueller Report this past June. Now, Trump is facing perhaps the most damning evidence to move toward impeachment of his entire career, and it involves a leading 2020 democratic candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Earlier this month, a whistleblower complaint revealed that Trump pursued an unfounded investigation through Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into Biden’s son, Hunter. As details of the case continue to unravel, Trump is also being accused of potentially blocking Congress-approved military aid for Ukraine and investigated for interference in the 2020 election.
As a result of this latest infraction, Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives, with vocal support from 2020 presidential candidates and Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, along with others, are organizing their efforts toward an official impeachment inquiry. As the issue came to a head in Pelosi’s speech, we’re taking a look at all of the past offenses that almost resulted in Trump’s impeachment.
May - December 2017: Trump dismisses FBI Director James Comey after he spearheaded Russia investigation
When Trump initially dismissed FBI Director James Comey, Democratic members of Congress created an “impeachment clock” based on possible obstruction of justice charges. Comey, who was leading investigations into Trump’s campaign ties to Russia, revealed a memo where Trump requested he end his investigation into national security advisor Michael T. Flynn. This, paired with Trump disclosing classified information to Russia at the same time, sparked a movement for impeachment by a slew of House members.
Texas Rep. Al Green was one of the first people to suggest tangible action toward impeachment, introducing an article in July to the House of Representatives. Despite initial support from Democratic leaders and an ongoing pursuit of moving impeachment proceedings forward, the majority of the House across both parties voted against impeachment. Then-minority leader Nancy Pelosi and minority Whip Steny Hoyer issued a statement in December 2017 that although “legitimate questions have been raised about [Trump's] fitness to lead this nation," "now is not the time to consider articles of impeachment."
December 2018 - March 2019: Michael Cohen testifies following Trump's affair with Stormy Daniels
Following the midterm elections, the Democrats regained control over the House of Representatives, presenting a new opportunity to pursue Trump for possible crimes. By early January 2019, the House Judiciary committee’s ranking members called for experienced lawyers to investigate Trump, with new chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler from New York promising to file another impeachment resolution, this time tied to the news of Trump’s alleged affair with Stormy Daniels.
By February, when Trump’s former “fixer” Michael Cohen copped to paying Daniels $130,000 to deny her pre-election affair, he publicly testified under oath to high crimes and misdemeanors committed by Trump. During the proceedings, Cohen referred to Trump as “racist” and a “disgraced felon,” implicating him in about 11 different impeachable felonies. Led by Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee then requested over 81 documents and testimonies as part of a “pre-impeachment” investigation. Within the following month, as the Mueller report was parsed through by Attorney General William Barr, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib introduced another formal impeachment resolution against Trump. Tlaib, the first Palestenian-American congresswoman in the U.S., swore on the day of her election to “impeach the motherfucker,” and has since attempted to make good on that promise.
April - July 2019: The Mueller Report is released, suggesting obstruction charges
Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller report was deemed insufficient for the House to move on any sort of impeachment charges. But after many members of Congress and the public called for the release of the full report, a (partially redacted) copy of the report was finally publicly released. That’s when members of Congress, led by the so-called “Squad” of progressive freshman Congresswomen, began backing Tlaib’s resolution movement. Among them were Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar, who were both outspoken about driving forward charges against Trump after the Mueller report suggested that Congress should be able to determine what constitutes obstruction. The report showed that Trump had committed 10 actions that could be deemed obstruction of justice over the course of his presidency.
In May, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash became the first Republican member of Congress (he has since become an Independent) to call for Trump’s impeachment, followed shortly after by another Republican, Missouri Rep. Tom Coleman. And, later that month, former Special Counsel to the Department of Justice Robert Mueller himself spoke out, saying that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing."
From March 1 to July 17, 2019, a total of four different impeachment charges were made against Trump by different representatives, the latest coming again from Rep. Al Green, who was out-voted for the third time. But, House leadership (quietly) decided to start impeachment proceedings in July 2019, eventually voting in September to approve a resolution that would define the rules of an impeachment investigation. This marked the first official movement toward holding impeachment hearings against Trump.
September 2019: Whistleblower complaint on the Ukraine controversy prompts investigation
The first impeachment hearing against a U.S. president in 21 years started on September 17 with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in the hot seat. While questioned, Lewandowski admitted to at least six offenses committed by the Trump administration, including pressuring former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to scale back the Russia investigation.
This sparked the beginning of a month of allegations against Trump. Earlier this month, a potentially damning whistleblower complaint from within the intelligence community emerged. Though the details were at first concealed, the allegations have now been revealed: Trump pressed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden, during a July 2019 phone call. Biden sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company and pushed for the dismissal of a potentially corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor back in 2016. Trump claimed that an investigation was necessary, though his claims remain unsubstantiated.
The problem lies in potential evidence that showed the White House delayed $391 million in Congress-approved military aid to Ukraine just ahead of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky. Now, an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions is beginning to take hold at the Capitol, with a running count of more than two-thirds of House Democrats in support of moving forward. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who for two years has remained hesitant to speak on the matter, made an announcement this afternoon addressing the House Democrats plans to move forward with an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. While this is the latest on a laundry list of infractions that spearheaded impeachment debates, today’s announcement is by far the most detrimental to the future of his presidency.