Thursday morning at the weekly Democratic leadership press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that when it comes to accusations about President Trump's communications with the president of Ukraine, "all roads lead to Putin."
She said sending military aid to Ukraine was "in our national interest... because they were fighting the Russians. They've already lost over 11,000, 12,000, 13,000 people fighting the Russians. That's why I say all roads lead to Putin"
She also said that while the 11 accusations of obstruction of justice mentioned in the Mueller report would have been enough to launch an impeachment inquiry, Democrats waited because the Ukraine scandal "had a story, a narrative about the president threatening to grant or withhold certain privileges and certain military assistance voted on by the Congress."
"Putin benefited from any holding up of that military assistance [to Ukraine]. Putin benefited by the action taken by the president, vis-a-vis Syria and Turkey," she said. "Putin benefited from the president's comments about uncertainty about our support for NATO, and the list goes on."
"I won't even go into the elections. Just those three because those are the three that I have mentioned to the president when I have said, 'With you, Mr. President, all roads lead to Putin.'"
"I do believe the truth will set us free," she said regarding the first day of public impeachment inquiry hearings.
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: Nobody, nobody, not the president -- the president is not above the law. The president will be held accountable. And nobody should have the right to endanger whistle-blowers. And that is the system that I will defend, and the American people understand that.
QUESTION: You talked about bribery a second ago.
PELOSI: Yes, bribery.
QUESTION: That's a very serious charge.
PELOSI: It's in the constitution. You know, we're talking Latin around here, E Pluribus Unum, from many, one. Quid pro quo. Bribery. Bribery. And that is in the Constitution, attached to the impeachment proceedings.
QUESTION: And what was the bribe here?
PELOSI: 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. Yes?
QUESTION: Are you looking at an article of impeachment?
PELOSI: I don't know about that. We haven't even made a decision to impeach. That's what the inquiry is about. And when the committees decide that, they will decide what the articles are. But I am saying that what is -- the president has admitted to and says it's perfect. I say it's perfectly wrong. It's bribery.
QUESTION: Talking about the importance of the public, bringing the public along on the idea of impeachment. Do you think yesterday, the witnesses, your members' questioning, was effective in convincing the public this was a worthwhile thing to pursue?
PELOSI: Well, it's -- look, first and foremost, we have a responsibility to honor our oath of office, to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. And that is our responsibility. The clarity for the public to understand what is there wasn't as clear, in my view, when you say obstruction of justice, obstruction of justice, obstruction of justice 11 times in the Mueller report. That is justification enough for inquiring into an impeachment.
This had a story, a narrative about the president threatening to grant or withhold certain privileges and certain military assistance voted on by the Congress to Ukraine, which is in our national interest to do so because they were fighting the Russians. They've already lost over 11,000, 12,000, 13,000 people fighting the Russians. That's why I say all roads lead to Putin.
Putin benefited from our not -- any holding up of that foreign -- that military assistance.
Putin benefited by the action taken by the president, vis-a-vis Syria and Turkey. They wanted a stronghold in the middle east and the president gave them that.
Putin benefited from the president's comments about uncertainty about our support for NATO, and the list goes on. I won't even go into the elections. Just those three because those are the three that I have mentioned to the president when I have said, "With you, Mr. President, all roads lead to Putin."
QUESTION: You kept saying that you haven't really decided to move [forward with impeachment].
PELOSI: We haven't. That will be up to the committees to decide.
QUESTION: Do you believe yesterday's testimony from George Kent and Bill Taylor moved the needle for Democrats more towards that?
PELOSI: This isn't about for Democrats. This is for the American people. This is about patriotism. It's not about politics, Democrats, Republicans. It's not about anything political. It's about patriotism. It's about honoring our oath of office and to uphold the Constitution and the Constitution spells out what our responsibilities are and what our penalties are. And yesterday I think -- I do believe that the truth will set us free. And so the truth, coming from the president's own appointee, the president's own appointee describing bribery, and threatening the identity of the whistleblower, that was just shameful behavior on the part of the Republicans.