President Donald Trump on Friday sought to bolster his case that he did nothing wrong in Ukraine by releasing the reconstruction of a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which they exchanged little more than pleasantries.
"The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections", Pelosi said. "It's bribery", Pelosi said.
The investigation threatens to make Trump the third United States president to be impeached, after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, although the Senate - where Republicans enjoy a majority - would need to convict him to remove him from office.
Second, the Democrats are painfully aware that not one of their presidential pretenders stand a good chance of defeating Trump in 2020.
On Friday, Americans will hear from Marie Yovanovitch, the career foreign service officer whom Trump recalled as the USA ambassador to Ukraine after what one State Department official has called a "campaign of lies" against her by the president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
While Trump applauded the aggressive stance of some of his Republican defenders, he felt that numerous lawmakers in the opening hearing could have done more to support him and he pressed that case with congressional allies ahead of Friday, according to Republicans who were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations and were granted anonymity. After the congratulatory call, Schiff pointed out, Trump told Vice President Mike Pence not to attend Zelensky's inauguration.
The Constitution states that impeachable offenses include "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors". Democrats have begun to use the words bribery or attempted bribery in discussing Trump's actions. According to precedent, obstruction could be another article of impeachment.
In a message to Trump and response to the GOP criticism, Pelosi said, "If the president has something that is exculpatory - Mr. President that means you have anything that shows your innocence -then he should make that known". Democrats have said Trump abused the power of his office by pressing Zelenskyy to investigate a former Vice President Joe Biden, a political rival, and his son, Hunter, who had served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is a stalwart anti-corruption advocate, dedicated to the rule of law.
The top Republican on the committee, Devin Nunes, said Democrats had gone "too far" in their efforts to impeach Trump, castigating them for accusing the president of being a "Russian agent" and comparing them to "some kind of odd cult".
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Pelosi compared Trump's actions with former President Richard Nixon's conduct in the Watergate corruption scandal that led him in 1974 to become the only USA president to resign.
Replying in real time, Ms Yovanovitch called it "very intimidating".
Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, took note of Trump's comment during the hearing and asked Yovanovitch to respond. He has already marked some milestones since the Democrats launched a formal impeachment inquiry against him in September: obliterating the leader of the most ruthless and violent terror organization in the world, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, launching a fight against the drug crisis, signing a trade deal with Japan, to name a few. "With all of that, however, I have done FAR more for Ukraine". Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, was working at the time to persuade Ukraine to carry out the two investigations.
Yovanovitch also testified behind closed doors last month, where she detailed her abrupt ouster from her post.
He also pressed to hear from the still anonymous government whistleblower who first alerted officials about President Donald Trump's phone call with Ukraine that is in question.
"All roads lead to Putin", Pelosi said, also mentioning the withdrawal of US troops in Syria and actions by Trump that have called into question USA support for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
"It is a U.S. President's absolute right to appoint ambassadors".
Republican lawmakers called Taylor's account hearsay.
Trump told reporters after the hearing that he knew "nothing" about the call with Sondland.