Democrats are no longer charging President Trump with collusion, obstruction of justice, or even quid pro quo.
Instead, Democrats are now searching for “evidence of bribery,” Pelosi announced on Thursday.
“The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath,” she said during her weekly press conference. “The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections. That’s bribery.”
The subtle shift in the language comes as Democrats started their first series of public impeachment hearings on Thursday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the first public hearing in the impeachment inquiry:
— ABC News (@ABC) November 15, 2019
ABC News reports:
Pelosi said that the testimony shows Trump made a “clear attempt” to give himself an advantage in the 2020 election, jeopardizing national security and the U.S. election in violation of his oath of office.
“We haven’t even made a decision to impeach,” Pelosi said when asked whether an article of impeachment would be crafted around the charge of bribery. “That’s what the inquiry is about. When the committees decide that, they will decide what the articles are. But I am saying that what the president has admitted to and said it’s perfect, I say it’s perfectly wrong. It’s bribery.”
The Democrats’ shifting focus to the allegation of bribery in recent days appears to be no accident. Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution states, “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
The speaker’s remark is one of her strongest statements yet on the scandal engulfing Trump that is threatening his presidency. Bribery is one of the specific crimes spelled out in the Constitution as an impeachable offense.
“By the way, what President Trump has done on the record in terms of acting to advantage a foreign power to help him in his own election and the obstruction of information about that — the coverup — makes what Nixon did look almost small,” she said. “But again, an inquiry is an inquiry.”
Pelosi’s repeated use of the word “bribery” is a notable departure from recent weeks in which Democrats used convoluted terms like “quid pro quo” and “insidiousness” to describe Trump’s alleged behavior.
Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin highlighted the subtle shift from quid pro quo to charges of bribery in a tweet just before midnight.
“Public Service Announcement…The Schiff Show’s shiny object impeachment word of the day is ‘Bribery,'” Zeldin tweeted.
The New York Congressman continued: “Allegations of ‘Quid Pro Quo’ and ‘Extortion’ have self-destructed. That is all. Thank you for your attention.”
Public Service Announcement…The Schiff Show’s shiny object impeachment word of the day is “Bribery”.
Allegations of “Quid Pro Quo” and “Extortion” have self destructed. 💣
That is all.
Thank you for your attention.
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) November 15, 2019
“Please take note the DNC/Media talking points have changed in the last 24 hours to suit new narrative,” Donald Trump Jr tweeted in response.
Please take note the DNC/Media talking points have changed in the last 24 hours to suit new narrative. https://t.co/WJUAh9sE7b
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 15, 2019
President Trump, who has been vocal throughout the impeachment process—usually attesting to his own innocence—took to Twitter to claim: “THE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY IS NOW DEAD.”
….Ambassador Sondland did not tell us, and certainly did not tell me, about a connection between the assistance and the investigation.” THE FAKE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY IS NOW DEAD!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019