Nancy Pelosi 'Owes an Apology to This Nation': House Minority Leader Reams Impeachment Decision

As President Donald Trump continued claiming that Democratic concerns over his conversation with the Ukrainian president amounted to a witch hunt, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy harshly criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Tuesday decision to begin an impeachment inquiry.

McCarthy and other Republicans have sought to depict Pelosi's decision to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump—which followed mounting calls from Democrats and after a whistleblower complaint raised questions about whether Trump sought to arrange a quid pro quo with the Ukrainian president—as an attempt to undo the 2016 election. The Minority Leader issued biting remarks about the Speaker on Wednesday, questioning whether she should retain her position and claiming that she was damaging the country.

"What I'm concerned [about] now is the speaker of the House changed the course of that office for the history of this country. That a body that brings legislation, a body that represents the rule of law would change the course of what it actually means. To claim that a president had violated a law with no information, based it on a whistleblower, she does not know that wasn't even on a phone call, to claim that the president did a quid pro quo and mentioned Biden's name eight times, but when this transcript comes out I want—is it out?" McCarthy told reporters after being asked whether he thought the impeachment decision would galvanize the Trump voter base.

"So I think at the end of the day the speaker owes an apology to this nation, and I think it's even a question why she should stay in her job."

Worth noting that when McCarthy said “No one has read this transcript,” he surprised some of his own colleagues who knew he had been at the WH earlier this morning — for the explicit purpose of reading the transcript in advance of its public release.

— Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker) September 25, 2019

Pelosi has privately urged for impeachment proceedings to focus on Trump's interactions with the president of Ukraine, The Washington Post reported. In 2017 Texas Representative Al Green became the first national lawmaker to call for impeachment. After the Mueller report was released in April, more Democrats began issuing demands for the removal process to be initiated. Pelosi ignored those calls for months, often citing the divisive nature of impeachment proceedings.

In order to impeach a president, a simple majority of House members would need to recommend charges against him. As of publication, 206 of the Democratic-controlled House's 435 members have said they support an impeachment inquiry. Many have joined calls to begin impeachment proceedings since revelations about Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

But, even if the House votes to bring charges against Trump, two-thirds of the Republican-controlled Senate would subsequently have to vote to convict the president in order to remove him from office. This has never before happened in history, and some Republicans have scoffed at Pelosi's decision to impeach on this basis.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul described it as a "political attack on the president and nothing more." Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who wrote an impassioned op-ed saying he would speak out against actions that are "destructive to democratic institutions" before taking office and signaled that he would challenge Trump when needed, also seemed hesitant to issue a strong rebuke of Trump when some facts were still unclear.

"It remains troubling in the extreme. It's deeply troubling," he told reporters about Trump's call with Zelensky after reading the partial transcript released by the White House on Wednesday.

House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy speaks as Rep. Jim Jordan and House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise listen during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on September 25. McCarthy questioned whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should retain her position in comments harshly criticizing her decision to start impeachment proceedings. Alex Wong/Getty Images