“Sadly, but with confidence and humility … today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,” Pelosi said.
“The facts are uncontested,” she said. “The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.”
“His wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of our constitution,” she added. “Our democracy is what is at stake. The president leaves us no choice but to act.”
“If we allow a president to be above the law, we do so at the peril of our republic,” she said.
The announcement tees up a House floor vote in the coming weeks that would make Trump just the fourth president in American history to face an impeachment vote, and the third to be impeached by the House of Representatives.
“In America, no one is above the law,” Pelosi said.
“The president has engaged in abuse of power undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections. His actions are in defiance of the vision of our Founders and the oath of office that he takes to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States,” she said.
About an hour later, President Trump tweeted his first reaction, saying that Democrats are focused on impeachment after they “gave up on the ridiculous Mueller ‘stuff.'” He said that impeachment is rarely used and suggested impeaching him will set a bad precedent for future presidents.
Pelosi’s announcement comes after several constitutional law experts told lawmakers the president had abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to open investigations that could benefit him politically.
On Wednesday, three constitutional law professors selected by Democrats told the House Judiciary Committee that Trump’s conduct towards Ukraine warranted impeachment. A law professor chosen by Republicans argued that there wasn’t yet sufficient evidence to meet the constitutional standard and that Democrats were rushing to judgment.
After the hearing, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said he believed the conditions for impeaching Trump had been met.
Pelosi delivered the statement from the same spot where she first announced the start of the Ukraine impeachment inquiry in September, privately discussed moving impeachment with her caucus and leadership team on Wednesday.
There were no objections in the room, when Pelosi asked Democrats “are you ready?” to move forward with proceedings, according to sources familiar with the meeting.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., defended Democrats’ deliberations, and pushed back on the suggestion from Republicans that a vote would be premature.
“This is not rush to judgment,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of information over two and a half years from a lot of different sources, including the Mueller report.”
While Democrats are still divided over the nature and scope of possible charges against Trump, House Judiciary Committee Democrats suggested they could pursue articles on abuse of power and bribery, obstruction of justice, and obstruction of Congress.
Lawmakers are also anticipating a potential floor vote to impeach the president before the end of month, though leadership hasn’t made an announcement.
ABC News’ Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.