10:09pm PT by Sharareh Drury
Nancy Pelosi Calls Trump Impeachment Inquiry "Very Sad" But Necessary on 'Late Show'
Following Thursday's significant House vote formalizing Democrats' impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat down for an exclusive interview with Stephen Colbert.
As Pelosi was welcomed by the late night host, Colbert joked about her having a busy day and thanked her for "making time to be on our silly show." To that, Pelosi thanked the host for his "patriotism" before telling him that the vote was "a sad thing for this country."
Colbert shared that while it might be a "sad occasion," in terms of potentially creating more divisiveness, "the reason people get happy is because people want to know that actions have consequences. There have been so few consequences with this president."
The California Democrat and House majority leader agreed, sharing "the most important thing for American people to realize is no one is above the law."
The investigation, for which Democrats laid down ground rules with today's vote, is focused on a summer phone call between Trump and newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and the president's efforts to have Ukraine investigate a potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden, as well as his son Hunter.
Colbert asked Pelosi what her initial reaction was to the phone call. "I prayed for the United States of America. Really ... it's very sad. We don't want to impeach a president. We don't want the reality that a president has done something that is in violation of the Constitution," she said.
"I had not been, shall we say, enthusiastic about the divisiveness that would occur from an impeachment, weighing the equities," Pelosi continued. "I had said then he's not worth impeaching because it's going to divide the country further than he has already divided [it]. This was something that you could not ignore. In one conversation he undermined our national security by withholding military assistance to a country that had been voted on by the Congress of the United States to the benefit of the Russians. At the same time, he jeopardized the integrity of our elections, the heart of our democracy. In doing so, in my view, he possibly violated his oath of office to protect, defend and preserve the Constitution of the United States."
Pelosi added that the American public feels "the smoking gun came out first" in terms of a whistleblower first bringing to light Trump's actions, later followed by the White House releasing a redacted transcript of the call.
Colbert agreed, noting the impeachment inquiry "seems like ... an investigation truly in reverse." The host then shared his theory that the White House released notes on the phone call because "they did not perceive that action as corrupt." When Pelosi quipped Colbert was "being very gentle" with his theory, he said of the president, "How about this? He's really dumb."
In terms of today's vote, in which 231 Democrats voted yes and zero Republicans joined them (total vote being 232-196), Pelosi clarified that "we didn't have to vote to formalize the inquiry," but Thursday's vote was "to present the rules of procedure." She also urged multiple times during her sit-down with Colbert that "nobody comes to Congress to impeach a president" and in the end "this is about the truth and the Constitution."
"We wanted to have clarity about how transparent it would be ... how fair it would be for the president," Pelosi said of the vote, which comes after weeks of closed-door interviews with witnesses.
"It's about the Constitution. It's about the three co-equal branches of government," Pelosi said. "We're honoring our oath of office. If they [Republicans] don't want to do that, that's their problem."