House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment Tuesday against President Donald Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress -- pushing toward historic votes over charges he corrupted the U.S. election process and endangered national security.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanked by the chairmen of the impeachment inquiry committees, stood at the Capitol in what she called a "solemn act.'' Voting is expected in a matter of days in the Judiciary Committee and by Christmas in the full House.
"He endangers our democracy, he endangers our national security," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the Judiciary chairman announcing the charges before a portrait of George Washington. "Our next election is at risk... That is why we must act now."
The charges unveiled Tuesday stem from Trump's pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals as he withheld aid to the country.
Trump tweeted ahead of the announcement that impeaching a president with a record like his would be "sheer Political Madness!"
The outcome, though, appears increasingly set as the House prepares for voting, as it has only three times in history against a U.S. president.
In drafting the articles of impeachment, Pelosi is facing a legal and political challenge of balancing the views of her majority while hitting the Constitution's bar of "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors."
Some liberal lawmakers wanted more expansive charges encompassing the findings from former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Centrist Democrats preferred to keep the impeachment articles more focused on Trump's actions toward Ukraine. House Democrats have announced two articles of impeachment charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
North Korea insulted U.S. President Donald Trump again on Monday, calling him a "heedless and erratic old man" after he tweeted that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wouldn't want to abandon a special relationship between the two leaders and affect the American presidential election by resuming hostile acts.
A senior North Korean official, former nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol, said in a statement that his country wouldn't cave in to U.S. pressure because it has nothing to lose and accused the Trump administration of attempting to buy time ahead of an end-of-year deadline set by Kim Jong Un for Washington to salvage nuclear talks.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted: "Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way ... North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, has tremendous economic potential, but it must denuclearize as promised."
He was referring to a vague statement issued by the two leaders during their first summit in Singapore in June last year that called for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula without describing when or how it would occur.
Trump added that Kim "does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November."
Kim Yong Chol said Trump's tweets clearly show that he is an irritated old man "bereft of patience."
"As (Trump) is such a heedless and erratic old man, the time when we cannot but call him a 'dotard' again may come," Kim Yong Chol said.
"Trump has too many things that he does not know about (North Korea). We have nothing more to lose. Though the U.S. may take away anything more from us, it can never remove the strong sense of self-respect, might and resentment against the U.S. from us."
Kim Yong Chol traveled to Washington and met with the U.S. president twice last year while setting up the summits with Kim Jong Un.
Nuclear negotiations faltered after a February meeting between Trump and Kim in Vietnam broke down when the U.S. side rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
Kim has said North Korea will seek a "new way" if the U.S. maintains its sanctions and pressure, and issued the deadline for the Trump administration to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal.
Trump and Kim met for a third time in June at the border between the two Koreas and agreed to resume talks. But an October working-level meeting in Sweden broke down over what the North Koreans described as the Americans' "old stance and attitude."
Kim Yong Chol's statement came days after North Korea's first vice foreign minister, Choe Sun Hui, issued a similar threat to resume insulting Trump after he spoke during a NATO summit in London of possible military action toward the North and revived his "rocket man" nickname for Kim Jong Un.
In 2017, Trump and Kim traded threats of destruction as North Korea carried out a slew of high-profile weapons tests aimed at acquiring an ability to launch nuclear strikes on the U.S. mainland. Trump said he would rain "fire and fury" on North Korea and derided Kim as "little rocket man," while Kim questioned Trump's sanity and said he would "tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire."
The two leaders avoided such words and developed better relations after North Korea entered nuclear negotiations with the U.S. last year. Trump even said he and Kim "fell in love," but his comments on Kim have become sharper in recent weeks amid the standoff in nuclear negotiations.
North Korea in recent weeks has said it is unwilling to continue rewarding Trump with meetings and summits he could chalk up as foreign policy wins unless it gets something substantial in return. The North's stance has raised doubts about whether Kim will ever voluntarily give away a nuclear arsenal he may see as his biggest guarantee of survival.
On Sunday, North Korea's Academy of National Defense said a "very important test" was conducted at a long-range rocket facility on the country's western coast, touching off speculation that the North could have tested a new rocket engine for either a satellite-launch vehicle or a solid-fuel intercontinental-range missile.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said Sunday that they are investigating a deadly shooting by a Saudi national at a naval base in Florida as "an act of terrorism."
"We work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism," said Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the FBI's Jacksonville office, at a news conference in Pensacola, pointing to Friday's rampage that left three people dead and eight others injured inside a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The FBI has identified the shooter as Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force who was on the base for flight training.
Rojas said the shooter, neutralized by a responding police Friday morning, used a Glock model 45 9-millimeter handgun that he had purchased legally.
"We currently assess there was one gunman who perpetrated this attack and no arrests have been made in this case," Rojas told reporters. "We are looking very hard at uncovering his motive and I would ask for patience so we can get this right."
The Saudi king called U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday to extend his condolences after the shooting.
"King Salman of Saudi Arabia just called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies," Trump tweeted earlier, adding the Saudi king said the shooter "in no way, shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people."
Rojas said on Sunday that there were several Saudi students who were close to the shooter and are cooperating with investigators.
"Their Saudi commanding officer has restricted them to base, and the Saudi government has pledged to fully cooperate with our investigation," the special agent said.
Located in Florida's northwest corner near its border with Alabama, the Pensacola facility is a major training site for the U.S. Navy and home to its aerobatic flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels. It employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel.
The Friday attack was the second shooting at a U.S. military facility in the past week.
A shooting on Wednesday afternoon in Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii left three dead, including the gunman.
The Saudi gunman who killed three people at the Pensacola naval base had apparently gone on Twitter shortly before the shooting to blast U.S. support of Israel and accuse America of being anti-Muslim, a U.S. official said Sunday as the FBI confirmed it is operating on the assumption the attack was an act of terrorism.
Investigators are also trying to establish whether the killer, 2nd Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, of the Royal Saudi Air Force, acted alone or was part of a larger plot.
Alshamrani, who was killed by a sheriff's deputy during the rampage at a classroom building Friday, was undergoing flight training at Pensacola, where members of foreign militaries routinely receive instruction.
"We are, as we do in most active-shooter investigations, work with the presumption that this was an act of terrorism," said Rachel J. Rojas, the special agent in charge of the FBI's office in Jacksonville.
Authorities believe the gunman made social media posts criticizing the U.S. under a user handle similar to his name, but federal law enforcement officials are investigating whether he authored the words or just posted them, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Also, investigators believe the gunman visited New York City, including Rockefeller Center, days before the shooting and are working to determine the purpose of the trip, the official said.
All foreign students at the Pensacola base have been accounted for, no arrests have been made, and the community is under no immediate threat, Rojas said at a news conference. A Saudi commanding officer has ordered all students from the country to remain at one location at the base, authorities said.
"There are a number of Saudi students who are close to the shooter and continue to cooperate in this investigation," Rojas said. "The Saudi government has pledged to fully cooperate with our investigation."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the investigation was proceeding under "the presumption that this was an act of terrorism"and he called for better vetting of foreigners allowed into the U.S. for training on American bases.
Speaking at a news conference Sunday afternoon, DeSantis also said the gunman had a social media trail and a "deep-seated hatred of the United States."
He said he thought such an attack could have been prevented with better vetting.
"You have to take precautions" to protect the nation, DeSantis said.
"To have this individual be able to take out three of our sailors, to me that's unacceptable," the governor added.
Earlier in the week of the shooting, Alshamrani hosted a dinner party where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings, another U.S. official told the AP on Saturday.
Alshamrani used a Glock 9 mm weapon that had been purchased legally in Florida, Rojas said. DeSantis questioned whether foreigners should continue to be allowed under federal law to buy guns in the U.S. and called it a "federal loophole."
Republican DeSantis said he supports that the Second Amendment but that it "does not apply to Saudi Arabians."
Family members and others identified the three dead as Joshua Kaleb Watson, a 23-year-old graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy; Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, of St. Petersburg, Florida, who joined the Navy after graduating from high school last year; and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21, of Richmond Hill, Georgia.
The official who spoke Saturday said one of the three students who attended the dinner party hosted by the attacker recorded video outside the classroom building while the shooting was taking place. Two other Saudi students watched from a car, the official said.
In a statement, the FBI confirmed Sunday that it had obtained base surveillance videos as well as cellphone footage taken by a bystander outside the building, and had also interviewed that person.
Rojas would not directly answer when asked whether other students knew about the attack beforehand or whether there was anything "nefarious" about the making of the video. She said that a lot of information needs to be confirmed by investigators and that she did not want to contribute to "misinformation" circulating about the case.
Rojas said federal authorities are focused on questioning the gunman's friends, classmates and other associates. "Our main goal is to confirm if he acted alone or was he part of a larger network," she said.
President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, said on CBS' ""Face the Nation" that the shooting looked like "terrorism or akin to terrorism." But he cautioned that the FBI was still investigating.
"Look, to me it appears to be a terrorist attack," he said. "I don't want prejudge the investigation, but it appears that this may be someone that was radicalized." O'Brien said he did not see evidence so far of a "broader plot."
The U.S. has long had a robust training program for Saudis, providing assistance in the U.S. and in the kingdom. More than 850 Saudis are in the United States for various training activities. They are among more than 5,000 foreign students from 153 countries in the U.S. going through military training.
Foreigners allowed into the U.S. for military training are subject to background checks to weed out security risks.
"This has been done for many decades," Trump said on Saturday. "I guess we're going to have to look into the whole procedure. We'll start that immediately."
The U.S. Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee released a report on Saturday explaining the constitutional grounds for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
The report, written by the panel's majority staff, detailed the history, purpose and meaning of the U.S. Constitution's Impeachment Clause. It also addressed legal questions about the impeachment process and rebutted false claims about impeachment.
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler tweeted the accusation that Trump "abused his power, betrayed our national security and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain."
Trump, speaking to reporters outside the White House before leaving for a trip to Florida Saturday afternoon, called the impeachment proceeding "a total hoax" and a continuation of the Russia probe, which he has consistently labeled as "witch hunt."
In addition, the president claimed "nothing came out" of his July phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, an episode standing at the center of the impeachment proceeding initiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in late September.
"We had a perfect conversation. It was only a conversation. Nothing came out of the conversation, except for the relationship with Ukraine," Trump said.
House Democrats are looking into whether Trump abused his office by pressuring Zelensky into launching investigations that could benefit him politically.
Lawmakers are also examining whether the Republican president conditioned a White House meeting or a military aid to Ukraine on those probes.
Pelosi announced on Thursday she was asking Nadler's panel to write articles of impeachment against Trump, which could be released and voted on as soon as this coming week.
The White House has warned Democrats in the House of their likely adoption of articles of impeachment.
"Adopting articles of impeachment would be a reckless abuse of power by House Democrats," White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to Nadler on Friday. The move "would constitute the most unjust, highly partisan, and unconstitutional attempt at impeachment in our Nation's history," Cipollone argued.
According to the nation's constitution, the House shall have the sole "Power of Impeachment," while the Senate shall have the sole "Power to try all impeachments."
Trump will be impeached if the House approves any of the articles of impeachment the House Judiciary Committee has recommended by a simple majority vote.
But conviction can only happen in the Senate and requires at least two-thirds of its members, or 67 senators, to vote in favor. Currently, the Senate has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents.