Pelosi alerts House to be ready to send impeachment articles next week
Nancy Pelosi has alerted politicians that she will transmit the articles of impeachment against US President Donald Trump “soon”, after being accused of stalling.
The Democratic-led House impeached Mr Trump last month on charges that he abuses his power in dealings with Ukraine and obstructed efforts by Congress to investigate the alleged misconduct.
But a trial to determine his guilt or innocence cannot begin in the Senate until the House transmits the charges.
Ms Pelosi says she will “soon” transmit the articles of impeachment against Mr Trump, signalling a potential thaw in the standoff with Senate Republicans as she warned against rushing to an acquittal without a fair trial.
Ms Pelosi faces mounting pressure from Republicans and some Democrats to quit delaying the president’s trial in the Senate, three weeks after the House Democrats impeached Mr Trump on charges of abuse and obstruction.
Republicans say Democrats are embarrassed by their vote. But Ms Pelosi countered that Democrats are “proud” of upholding the Constitution and said she doubted that Senate Republicans will do the same.
Many on Capitol Hill expect the Senate impeachment trial to begin next week.
“I’ll send them over when I’m ready. That will probably be soon,” Ms Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol, noting she is not postponing it “indefinitely.”
Ms Pelosi’s delay in sending the articles of impeachment over for a Senate trial has led to a standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over what would be the third impeachment trial in the nation’s history. Mr McConnell said that if Mr Pelosi and House Democrats are “too embarrassed” to send the articles of impeachment, the Senate will simply move on next week to other business.
“They do not get to trap our entire country into an unending groundhog day of impeachment without resolution,” Mr McConnell said.
Mr McConnell has said from the start he is looking to model Mr Trump’s trial on the last time the Senate convened as the court of impeachment, for President Bill Clinton in 1999. McConnell has said there will be “no haggling” with House Democrats over Senate procedures.
“There will be no unfair, new rule rule-book written solely for President Trump,” McConnell said Thursday.
McConnell, who met with Mr Trump late Wednesday at the White House, suggested last month it would be “fine with me” if the House never sent the articles. More recently, he has drawn on the Constitution’s intent for the Senate to have the ultimate say on matters of impeachment. He scoffed that Pelosi has “managed to do the impossible” by uniting Democrats and Republicans who want the trial to begin.
Some Democrats have been showing increased anxiety over the delay as Americans remain divided over Trump’s impeachment.
The delay on impeachment has also up-ended the political calendar, with the weekslong trial now expected to bump into presidential nominating contests, which begin in early February. Several Democratic senators are running for the party’s nomination.
As Pelosi dashed into a morning meeting at the Capitol, she was asked if she had any concerns about losing support from Democrats for her strategy. She told reporters: “I know exactly when” to send the impeachment articles over, Pelosi said. “I won’t be telling you right now.”
Ms Pelosi is seeking what she says she wanted from the start – “to see the arena” and “terms of the engagement” that Mr McConnell will use for the trial – before sending her House managers to present the articles of impeachment in the Senate.
She has yet to choose the managers, a source of political intrigue as many politicians want the high-profile job.
On Friday morning local time Mr Trump took to Twitter to comment on Nancy Pelosi and the impeachment proceedings again, categorising her as “perhaps the least successful Speaker [of the House] in U.S. history!”