“No one is above the law.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered this pointed rebuke of President Donald Trump as she announced the opening of an official impeachment inquiry. Whether or not the announcement materially changes anything remains up for debate, as the full House of Representatives has yet to vote on the matter. What is clear, however, is that the announcement is not meaningless. As Reuters reported, the opening of the inquiry has, “erased any doubt that Democrats were pursuing impeachment.”
The official opening of the inquiry arose from the groundswell of Democratic lawmakers supporting an official investigation. Talks of impeachment have long floated about the airwaves and news pages, ever since the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller two years ago. However, it wasn’t the Mueller Report or Trump’s alleged ties to Russia that proved the tipping point for an impeachment inquiry. It was allegations that Trump had misused the powers of his office to leverage the Ukaranian government to dig up compromising information about 2020 competitor Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
On Sept. 23, The Washington Post reported that “President Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine at least a week before a phone call, in which Trump is said to have pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden.”
Since the launch of the inquiry, Democrat-controlled congressional committees have intensified their investigation into the president. Emerging as a leader of the investigation is the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Adam Schiff.
A former prosecutor with experience impeaching federal judges, he seems poised to be the Democrats’ frontman on all things impeachment. On Monday, CNN reported that Schiff’s committee had subpoenaed the President’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, for records pertaining to his dealings with Ukraine.
As Democrats race forward with an impeachment investigation, many questions remain unanswered. It is unclear whether the Democrats are ready to serve the president with articles of impeachment.
With The New York Times reporting that many vulnerable Democrats are “deeply uneasy about seeming too rash,” it is clear that many in the party remain wary of such a drastic move and the impact it might have on their 2020 reelection chances.