WASHINGTON ― House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Friday that the House will move to send the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate next week, signaling an end to a weekslong standoff with Senate Republicans over the rules governing the impeachment trial.
In a letter to colleagues, Pelosi said she had instructed House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to “be prepared to bring to the Floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate.” Pelosi added that she would be consulting with her caucus at a Tuesday meeting “on how we proceed further,” but the letter is a clear sign of her backing down from demands about the Senate trial.
The two articles, which center on Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, charge Trump with using the power of his office to further his political ambitions and block congressional investigations.
Although the House votes making Trump the third president in American history to be impeached occurred on Dec. 18, Pelosi said afterward that she would not send the articles to the Senate until she knew more about how the trial would be conducted in the Republican-controlled chamber.
She has urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to allow new witnesses to testify and new documentation to be introduced at trial and to make the rules of that trial public before it starts. But McConnell, a staunch Trump ally, refused. The Kentucky Republican has been dismissive of the impeachment charges and has all but promised the acquittal of the president.
Pelosi said at a Thursday press conference that she never planned on holding the articles indefinitely. The speaker also defended the delay when asked whether it could potentially allow Trump to continue his Ukraine dealings, saying the House was acting “strategically.”
“We need to see the arena in which we are sending our managers. Is that too much to ask?” she said at that press conference, referring to the group of House members who will make the case for removing the president from office before the Senate. It is not yet known who will be selected.
She continued: “We are proud of our defense of the Constitution of the United States. We are concerned that the senators will not be able to live up to the oath they must take to hold an impartial trial.”
McConnell has said on national television that there would be “total coordination” with the White House in the trial, disturbing even some in his own party. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), another staunch Trump ally, also drew criticism with public comments that he would not even try to be a “fair juror” in the president’s trial.
Indications that Pelosi’s fellow Democrats were breaking with her resolve to hold off sending the articles arose in recent days as several Senate Democrats appeared eager to move the proceedings along. Those Democrats argued that while Pelosi’s gambit had focused the public’s attention on their efforts to make sure witnesses are heard at trial, it was time to move forward while continuing to press for witness testimony during the proceedings. To subpoena their desired witnesses, Democrats will need to convince at least four Republican senators to vote with them.
To oust Trump from the Oval Office, two-thirds of the Senate would need to vote in favor of doing so. Given GOP control of the chamber, its votes on the impeachment articles are widely expected to fall far short of the required total.
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