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Pelosi: 'No choice' but to move forward with articles of impeachment

(CNN) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday the House was proceeding with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, a historic step that is likely to make Trump the third President in US history to be impeached.

"Today, I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment," Pelosi said in a brief address outside her office, the same location where she announced Democrats would open the impeachment inquiry two months ago. "The President leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt once again the election for his own benefit."

The speaker's announcement is the clearest signal yet that Democrats are moving swiftly to impeach the President before Christmas.

Pelosi's direction to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler to draft articles of impeachment comes one day after his committee held its first impeachment hearing, where legal experts testified on about whether Trump's conduct was impeachable.

Pelosi argued that the case against Trump is clear.

"The facts are uncontested. The President abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival," she said.

"If we allow a President to be above the law, we do so surely at the peril of our republic," Pelosi continued, adding, "In America, no one is above the law."

Trump tweeted ahead of Pelosi's announcement Thursday that the Democrats should quickly impeach him so they could move onto the Senate trial, where Republicans have a majority.

LIVE UPDATES: The latest on the Trump impeachment inquiry

"They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country," Trump said. "But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy. Therefore I say, if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair...trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business."

As the Judiciary Committee prepares to bring forward articles of impeachment, the panel's next step is expected to be a look into the evidence presented by the House Intelligence Committee, which released on Tuesday a 300-page report detailing the findings of the House's two-month investigation into Trump and Ukraine.

Pelosi has been engaging in a stream of private conversations in recent days with her colleagues to get their input on whether they're ready to impeach Trump and what should be included in the articles of impeachment, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Speaking to her caucus behind closed doors on Wednesday, Pelosi asked: "Are you ready?"

The question focused on whether the Democratic caucus was ready to keep moving forward on the next steps on impeachment, and Democrats were vocal in responding yes, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

Democrats are considering bringing multiple articles of impeachment against the President, including abuse of power and bribery for his actions toward Ukraine, and obstruction of Congress for stonewalling the investigation. Democrats are also weighing whether to bring forward an obstruction of justice charge that would include the allegations against Trump detailed in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

RELATED: Impeachment puts Trump and Pelosi on track for epic clash

The House Judiciary Committee, which took up the obstruction of justice investigation, included questions about Mueller and obstruction of justice at Wednesday's hearing.

Republicans have continued to slam the impeachment process as an unfair process that's predetermined to try to overturn the results of the 2016 election.

Trump's tweets Thursday included a call for Republicans in the Senate to call witnesses that Democrats have not allowed in the House, including House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden — and even Pelosi.

"We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is. I was elected to 'Clean the Swamp,' and that's what I am doing!" he said.

This story has been updated with additional developments Thursday.

The-CNN-Wire
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