Pelosi to huddle with House Democrats on next steps in Trump impeachment as Senate awaits articles
WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will huddle Tuesday with fellow Democratic lawmakers to discuss the next steps in the impeachment of President Donald Trump, including when to send the articles to the Senate for trial.
The Democratic Caucus meeting comes after Pelosi said Friday she would send the impeachment articles to the Senate this week, which would trigger a Senate trial over whether to convict Trump and remove him from office. She also asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., to prepare a resolution that would authorize and appoint the House lawmakers called managers, who will prosecute the case during the Senate trial.
But Pelosi, D-Calif., hasn’t announced the precise timing for a House vote on that resolution, which would formally set the stage for a Senate trial as early as this week. She has delayed sending the articles, after the House impeached Trump on Dec. 18, in order to learn more about how the trial would be conducted, such as whether witnesses would be called.
Senators of both parties have voiced frustration with the delay. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he wouldn’t haggle with the House over trial procedures in what he called Pelosi’s “one-woman blockade.”
“The president’s opponents are afraid of having the Senate judge the case they actually are going to send us,” McConnell said Monday from the Senate floor. “They are afraid of having the Senate judge the case they themselves voted on. That alone speaks volumes.”
The articles accuse Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but the president has said he expects to be exonerated in the Senate trial. A two-thirds majority would be required to convict Trump and remove him from office, which is considered unlikely in a Senate where Republicans outnumber Democrats 53 to 47.
A major sticking point between Republicans and Democrats has been over whether witnesses will be allowed to testify during the Senate trial. Democrats have argued the trial should include witnesses who didn’t testify during the House inquiry. But McConnell has said he has the votes to begin the trial without deciding on whether to call witnesses until after both sides have presented opening statements.
Former national security adviser John Bolton, who declined an invitation to testify in the House inquiry, said Jan. 6 he is prepared to testify under subpoena in the Senate trial. Pelosi has said Bolton’s offer, plus other details about how aid to Ukraine, justified the delay in sending the articles to the Senate.
“Leader McConnell’s tactics are a clear indication of the fear that he and President Trump have regarding the facts of the President’s violations for which he was impeached,” Pelosi said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has urged testimony from four witnesses, including Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Democrats need at least four Republicans to join them to reach a majority of 51 senators to approve subpoenas for witnesses and documents, and a handful of Republicans have said they are open to hearing from witnesses after the opening statements.
Trump has said he might block Bolton’s testimony under executive privilege, to protect the confidentiality of advice that presidents get from top aides.
The House accused Trump of abusing the power of his office by asking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, withholding a White House meeting and $391 million in military aid. The House also accused Trump of obstructing Congress by directing aides and agencies to defy subpoenas for documents and testimony, although some officials did testify.
Trump and congressional Republicans have argued he had the authority to set foreign policy and was justified in fighting corruption in Ukraine. Trump has said he expects to be exonerated in the Senate trial.