House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that there “is no cause for any joy” in launching a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.
“This is a very sad time for our country,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in an exclusive interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“We have to put country before party very clearly in the public view," she added in her first interview since the impeachment inquiry was announced. "The impeachment of a president is as serious as our congressional responsibilities can be."
Pelosi said the actions of the Trump administration were “jeopardizing national security” and “jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.”
Speaking out about her decision to support a formal impeachment inquiry after months of resisting, Pelosi said, “He gave us no choice.”
But she maintained that she would like to keep the inquiry narrowly aimed at the Ukraine scandal.
“I think we have to stay focused as far as the public is concerned on the fact that the president of the United States used taxpayer dollars to shake down the leader of another country for his own political gain.”
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Pelosi, however, also suggested that Russia had a role in the ongoing scandal.
"It is wrong for any foreign government to interfere in our elections and here you have the president of the United States asking for that," she said.
“I think Russia has a hand in this, by the way,” Pelosi said. She did not elaborate.
Asked if the impeachment process might conclude before the end of the year, Pelosi said only that her party would “move with purpose, and expeditiously, but not hastily.”
“Looking at the ... material the administration is giving us, they are actually speeding up the process,” she added.
Her comments come amid a growing impeachment firestorm in the nation’s capital.
On Tuesday, Pelosi, who for months resisted efforts to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump, announced a formal inquiry, saying that the president’s growing Ukraine scandal marked a “breach of his Constitutional responsibilities." Her watershed announcement followed days of revelations surrounding Trump's apparent push to have the Ukrainian government investigate the former vice president's son Hunter Biden.
Then, on Wednesday a description of a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was made public under pressure from Democrats. Notes of the call showed Trump asked Zelenskiy to look into why that country's top prosecutor apparently had ended an investigation of the business dealings of Joe Biden’s son, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
A day later, a whistleblower's complaint about Trump was made public. It said that White House officials were so concerned about what the president said in the July call that they intervened to "lock down" the transcript of the conversation.
The whistleblower lodged the formal complaint out of a belief that Trump was "using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country" in the 2020 election.
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The whistleblower complaint also alleges that “the president's personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure” in the Ukraine pressure, and that “Attorney General (William) Barr appears to be involved as well.”
Pelosi said Friday that Barr has “gone rogue.”
“I think where they’re going is a cover-up of the cover-up,” she said. “To have a Justice Department go so rogue — well, they had been for a while, and now it just makes matters worse that the attorney general was mentioned, that the president was mentioned.”
Amid the growing scandal, at least 222 House Democrats — almost the entire 235-member caucus — have now said they support some type of action on impeachment.