President Donald Trump tweeted out several angry messages Tuesday just minutes after Congress announced a long-discussed formal impeachment inquiry into him.
“Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking new Witch Hunt garbage,” he tweeted. “So bad for our Country!”
The president’s tweets included “Witch Hunt” and “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT,” two phrases he often uses to describe Democrats’ push for impeachment. He also tweeted a video compilation of various lawmakers calling for his impeachment, alleging that such a call will only help him win the 2020 election.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday that the House will open an “official impeachment inquiry” and called the president’s conduct regarding the Ukraine phone call a “violation of law.”
Pelosi asked the six House committee chairs to continue their own investigations under the “umbrella” of an impeachment inquiry and send their cases to the House Judiciary Committee, which would then package it together and decide whether to send articles of impeachment to the full House.
“Can you believe this?” Trump said in one of his tweets, name dropping Pelosi, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).
The inquiry announcement came in response to news that Trump allegedly called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to pressure him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate’s son, Hunter Biden, just days after withholding millions in military aid to Ukraine.
Trump confirmed to reporters at the United Nations earlier Tuesday that he did withhold nearly $400 million and urge Zelensky to probe into Biden’s family, but he denied that he threatened to withhold U.S. military aid to the country if Ukraine did not investigate Biden.
According to the Washington Post, when asked about impeachment earlier Tuesday before Pelosi’s announcement, Trump said: “They say it’s a positive for me. How can you do this and you haven’t even seen the phone call?” He also said in his string of tweets that Congress “never even saw the transcript of the call.”
The call with Zelensky is at the center of an intelligence whistleblower complaint that surfaced last week and was first reported by the Post. The whistleblower, who had knowledge of the phone call, reportedly approached Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson with concerns that Trump made certain “promises” while communicating with a foreign leader, among other incidents.
Trump said throughout the day Tuesday that he will release the “unredacted transcript” of his call with Zelensky the next day. But Democrats have said the transcript is not enough, demanding that acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire release the whistleblower complaint that Atkinson called “urgent.” Maguire has so far refused to turn over the complaint.
While announcing the impeachment inquiry, Pelosi said that Maguire must turn over the whistleblower complaint to the House Intelligence Committee by Thursday. The GOP-controlled Senate also unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday demanding the Trump administration release the complaint.
The reports about Trump’s request for foreign intervention in U.S. elections and potential bribery led a wave of more Democratic lawmakers to call for a full impeachment inquiry in Congress, making a total of at least 172 House members demanding the proceeding. Pelosi’s announcement was a change on her own stance, as she’s been a consistent opponent of impeachment and an advocate for long committee investigations.
Nearly a dozen of those new lawmakers supporting impeachment are freshmen, including several from districts that Trump won in 2016.
Trump’s reelection campaign wasted no time using the impeachment inquiry announcement to fundraise for 2020, telling voters: “I need you on my Impeachment Defense Team.”
A couple of hours after the impeachment announcement, the White House released a full statement related to the House investigation.
“In a far departure from all the work and results of this President, House Democrats have destroyed any chances of legislative progress for the people of this country by continuing to focus all their energy on partisan political attacks,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, calling the impeachment inquiry “pathetic.”
This story has been updated with a statement from the White House.