'An attempted coup,' Donald Trump told Nancy Pelosi a day before impeachment

On Wednesday (December 18), President Donald Trump became the third U.S. president after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton to be impeached by the House of Representatives. Voting took place on two charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The voting was strictly on party lines with the Democrats voting for and the Republicans voting against. The first charge - abuse of power - was passed by 230-197 votes and the other charge - obstruction of Congress - by 229-198.

Trump's scathing 6-page letter to Pelosi

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi YouTube grab

A day before the impeachment proceedings, Trump wrote a six-page letter to House Speaker Pelosi in which he described impeachment as "an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat lawmakers, unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history. You have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word, impeachment!."

He likened the impeachment proceedings to "an open war on American democracy". Responding to Pelosi's statement that she prays for the president everyday, Trump said: "You know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense. You have developed a full-fledged case of what many in the media call Trump Derangement Syndrome and sadly, you will never get over it!"

Trump went on to dub the impeachment as "an illegal, partisan attempted coup".

Trump's views on Pelosi and impeachment a decade ago

In a 2008 CNN interview shared by CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer, Trump heaped praise on Pelosi, calling her "an impressive person". Pelosi was then serving her first stint as the House Speaker. "When she first got in and was named speaker, I met her, and I'm very impressed by her," he said in 2008. "I think she's a very impressive person. I like her a lot."

He then went on to talk about impeachment and that he thought she didn't do enough in going after Bush. "But I was surprised that she didn't do more in terms of [President George W.] Bush and going after Bush," Trump said. "It just seemed like she was going to really look to impeach Bush and get him out of office, which personally I think would have been a wonderful thing."

Why? "For the [Iraq] war. For the war," Trump said. He criticized Bush for lying to the nation about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) being found in Iraq. George W. Bush declared war on Iraq in 2003 and toppled the Saddam Hussein regime.

Trump then brought up the impeachment of Clinton. "Look at the trouble Bill Clinton got into with something that was totally unimportant and they tried to impeach him, which was nonsense," Trump said. "And yet Bush got us into this horrible war with lies, by lying, by saying they had weapons of mass destruction, by saying all sorts of things that turned out not to be true."

In 1999, Clinton became the second U.S. president to be impeached. Charges of perjury and obstruction of justice were leveled against him.

Though impeached in the House of Representatives, in the Senate it requires a two-thirds majority. A Republican-controlled senate is expected to acquit Trump in the trial that is expected to take place early next year.