Soon: Pelosi to speak about impeachment at 5 p.m. ET; Update: Senate unanimously calls on Trump to turn over whistleblower complaint; Update: Pelosi announces official impeachment inquiry; Update: WH to release whistleblower complaint?

Soon: Pelosi to speak about impeachment at 5 p.m. ET; Update: Senate unanimously calls on Trump to turn over whistleblower complaint; Update: Pelosi announces official impeachment inquiry; Update: WH to release whistleblower complaint?

We already know the the thrust of what she plans to say, that they’re opening a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump, but things are in such flux at the moment that there’s no telling where else they might go. Her meeting with Democratic leaders began at 4 p.m. ET and is ongoing as I write this. Are they forming a select committee on impeachment or letting Nadler run the show? Are they focusing exclusively on the Ukraine matter or planning to kitchen-sink Trump with obstruction material from Russiagate? What precisely will they say in the resolution they’re planning to introduce tomorrow addressing the Ukraine matter?

It’s all up in the air. Stay close to a computer or TV for the next hour.

She spoke about impeachment briefly an event earlier today and sounded ready to proceed, after nearly a year of fending off progressive demands.

While we wait for her, there’s some new bad news for the president. Obviously, Trump wants a clean “Democrats vs. Republicans” narrative for the big impeachment war. The more unified Republicans are, the easier it is for him to dismiss objections to what he said to Zelensky as mindless partisan harassment by the left. There’s a potential complicating factor in the Senate, though — Richard Burr’s Republican-led Intel Committee is now opening a probe into the Ukraine matter. Nothing’s going to convince 20 Senate Republicans to join with Democrats on a post-impeachment vote to remove Trump, but if Burr’s committee were to accuse Trump of misconduct it’d be a PR coup for Democrats. This isn’t partisanship, they could say. Even a Senate panel led by the GOP concluded that there was wrongdoing here.

A letter seeking to question the still-anonymous whistleblower was sent Tuesday to Andrew Bakaj, the lawyer who represents the official. It was signed by committee chair Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. — signifying that the panel is pursuing the politically explosive issue on a bipartisan basis.

“In order to ascertain the appropriate path forward for your client while protecting your client’s privacy, we are writing to request that you make your client available for a closed bipartisan interview with Committee counsel no later than Friday, September 27, 2019, in a mutually agreeable secure location,” the letter reads…

The committee’s request for an interview increases pressure on the Trump White House over an issue that seems increasingly likely to trigger a formal impeachment inquiry in the House. The fact that Burr has joined the request for more information immediately sends a signal that even some Senate Republicans — until now, almost all loyal to Trump — acknowledge the need for more information about the explosive allegations that Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to do his bidding in an attempt to smear his potential Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Even more dangerous for Trump is the fact that Burr said in 2016 when he won his third term to the Senate that he wouldn’t seek a fourth term in 2022. Trump has no leverage over him, in other words, by threatening a primary challenge. And Burr earned a reputation in the media as a square dealer for conducting the Senate Intel Committee’s Russiagate probe in a bipartisan way, in dramatic contrast to the knife fighting that went on between Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff on the House side. If Burr’s committee meets with the whistleblower and finds him or her credible and the allegations serious, that’s a bad spot for Trump to be in.

Another not great sign for Trump today is McConnell declining to cover for him on the mysterious delay in sending Ukraine the military aid that Congress appropriated for it:

McConnell said he spoke to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo twice about the matter without receiving clarification for the delay in $391 million in aid to Ukraine.

“I was very actively involved in advocating [for] the aid. I talked to the secretary of Defense, the secretary of State once,” he said.

“The good news was it finally happened,” he added, noting the administration finally released the aid. “I have no idea what precipitated the delay.”

Over to you, Mr. President. We’re about 30 minutes away from Pelosi as I write this but news is already leaking out of the closed-door Dem leadership meeting. I’ll leave you with this while we await her presser. Stand by for updates.

Update: There may already be an answer to the question of whether there’ll be a select committee or not. It sounds like “not.” Nadler’s committee will remain in charge.

Update: More pressure on Trump from Republicans:

They’re not turning on him. But if they’re going to be forced by Pelosi to take a nightmarish vote on whether to remove the president from office, they want to know — and they want the public to know — precisely what the complaint is. Republicans are hoping that the material is thin and that its thinness will make it easy (or easier) to vote no on removal. And in the meantime, making a few gestures of concern about what Trump is accused of while provide them a little distance from him as this plays out. Unquestionably they’re going to circle the wagons around them, but whatever they can do to create a veneer of independence from him is worth doing.

Update: As expected, Pelosi announces that a formal impeachment inquiry has begun.

Nadler has already insisted that he’s overseeing an impeachment inquiry but Democrats have tried to be cute about that, sometimes contradicting him in the belief that voters would react badly to impeachment. That caution is now out the window. Which, by the way, may strengthen Democrats’ hand in court when they seek documents from Trump and he asserts executive privilege. Because impeachment is a constitutional function expressly delegated to the House, judges might be more inclined to side with Dems in forcing Trump to turn over evidence despite his privilege claim.

Update: The tweeter-in-chief has logged on.

Update: Here’s Pelosi’s full statement. Democrats are reportedly asking each other this afternoon whether anything has actually changed here. Like I said, Nadler has been insisting all along that he’s running an impeachment inquiry. It’s noteworthy, obviously, that the impeachment-skeptic Speaker has now embraced the idea but as a formal matter nothing is different. As a practical matter, with Pelosi having endorsed the inquiry on national television, they’re now probably committed to impeaching Trump eventually. Imagine them telling their base after all this, “Nah, there’s just not enough there.”

Update: Some Dems continue to think the Speaker is too cautious…

Update: Democrats who were wondering what the point of today’s spectacle was now have their answer, per Politico: Under pressure of impeachment, the White House is now reportedly preparing to release the whistleblower complaint to Congress.

The White House is preparing to release to Congress by the end of the week both the whistleblower complaint and the Inspector General report that are at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, according to a senior administration official, reversing its position after withholding the documents from lawmakers.

The move shows the level of seriousness with which the administration is now approaching the House‘s new impeachment proceedings, even as President Donald Trump publicly tries to minimize the inquiry as a “witch hunt” or “presidential harassment,” or a move that will help him win his 2020 reelection campaign.

Pelosi called Trump’s bluff, now he’s calling hers. Here’s the material; are you really going to pull the trigger on impeachment?

Trending on HotAir Video