AUSTIN (KXAN) — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi closed out the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival in Austin just days after announcing the start of a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Pelosi received a standing ovation when she walked onto the stage inside the Paramount Theatre in downtown Austin.
Evan Smith, the CEO and co-founder of the Texas Tribune, then asked her why she decided to start an impeachment inquiry now given her caution about doing so previously. She replied simply, “The facts.”
Pelosi referenced the call this summer that President Donald Trump had with the Ukranian president.
“What happened in that phone conversation was that the President of the United States would withhold military assistance…to effectively shake down the leader of another county unless he did him a favor,” Pelosi said.
In an announcement Tuesday, Pelosi said, “I can say with authority that the Trump Administration’s actions undermine both our national security and our intelligence and our protections of whistle blowers.”
The whistle blower complaint stated that Rudy Giuliani traveled to Ukraine this summer and met with a presidential adviser from that country about a plan to investigate Joe Biden.
On Saturday night, Pelosi said she found no enjoyment in taking this route and called the pursuit of impeachment as “heartbreaking.”
“This is a very sad time for our country,” she said. “There is no joy in this. It’s sad. We must be somber. We must be prayerful, and we must pursue the facts further.”
Pelosi would not say how long the impeachment inquiry would last, nor would she specify if it would focus solely on the President’s call with Ukraine.
“It will take as long as the [House] Intelligence Committee follows the facts,” she said.
Smith asked her if pursuing impeachment would affect how Democrats would fare in the 2020 election. She replied, “It doesn’t matter. Our first responsibility is to respect and protect the Constitution.”
President Trump’s campaign accused former Vice President Biden in pressuring Ukraine to fire its prosecutor to protect his son. However, there’s been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.
A woman tried to interrupt Pelosi at one point during the talk Saturday. However, it was unclear what she kept saying. Much of it was drowned out with laughter and applause when the Speaker quipped, “I’m the Speaker of the House. I’m used to this.”
People in the audience got very excited before Pelosi even took the stage Saturday. They cheered when Willie Nelson unexpectedly walked out and took a seat in the front row of the auditorium.
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