Nancy Pelosi Says Trump's Actions Amount To Bribery

These are the House speaker's strongest comments yet in favor of impeachment.

In her firmest comments yet on whether President Donald Trump has committed an impeachable offense, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that his interactions with Ukraine amount to bribery.

The top Democrat’s remarks come a day after the House held the first public hearing in its ongoing impeachment inquiry with testimony from two State Department officials. 

“The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. “That’s bribery.”

The House still hasn’t decided whether it will impeach Trump, she said, but his actions amount to the criminal offense of bribery.

“I am saying that’s what the president has admitted to and says it’s perfect,” she continued. “I said it’s perfectly wrong. It’s bribery.”

Trump, who has repeatedly called the investigation a “hoax” and a “sham,” has defended his right to ask foreign leaders for political favors. 

“[I]t doesn’t matter, there is nothing wrong with that, it is not an impeachable event,” he tweeted last week.

On Wednesday, Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary for Europe and Eurasian affairs, both testified about concerns Trump withheld U.S. military aid to Ukraine until the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, agreed to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Attempting to downplay their testimonies, Republicans at the hearing relied on a series of confusing, contradictory defenses and conspiracy theories.

The next public testimony, scheduled for Friday morning, will be with former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.