Hawley Introduces Legislation to Dismiss Impeachment Articles

January 6, 2020 Updated: January 6, 2020
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Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced a measure on Monday meant to dismiss the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

House Democrats voted to impeach Trump on Dec. 18, 2019, for abuse of office and obstruction of Congress. Still, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has withheld the articles from the Senate, preventing a Senate trial from starting.

Senators judge presidents who are impeached. A simple majority can vote to dismiss the case while a supermajority is needed to convict the president or remove him from office.

Hawley’s resolution would amend the rules of the Senate regarding impeachment trials.

The new rule (pdf) would enable the Senate to vote to dismiss an impeachment case if 25 days elapse after an impeachment vote and the body hasn’t received impeachment articles from the House.

“Whensoever the Senate shall receive notice from the House of Representatives that managers are appointed on their part to conduct an impeachment against any person and are directed to carry articles of impeachment to the Senate, the Secretary of the Senate shall immediately inform the House of Representatives that the Senate is ready to receive the managers for the purpose of exhibiting such articles of impeachment, agreeably to such notice,” the proposed new rule states.

trump impeachment trial
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive at the White House in Washington on Jan. 5, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

“If following adoption of such articles, the House of Representatives does not so notify the Senate or otherwise provide for such articles to be exhibited to the Senate within 25 calendar days from the date of adoption of such articles, as recorded in the Journal of the House of Representatives, such articles shall be deemed exhibited before the Senate, and it shall be in order for any Senator to offer a motion to dismiss such articles with prejudice for failure by the House of Representatives to prosecute such articles,” it added.

“Such motion shall be adopted by an affirmative vote of a majority of the Senators, duly chosen and sworn, without debate by the yeas and nays, which shall be entered on the record.’’

Hawley said 10 senators co-sponsored the legislation.

Hawley and Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have both pushed for action in recent days.

Graham said on Sunday that he would give the House a week to act before pushing to have the Senate’s rules changed.

“If we don’t get the articles this week, then we need to take matters in our own hands and change the rules, deem them to be delivered to the Senate so we can start the trial, invite the House over to participate if they would like if they don’t come, dismiss the case and get on with governing the country,” he said.

Hawley said over the weekend on Fox News about Pelosi’s withholding the articles: “We need to change the Senate rules to allow the Senate to dismiss this case if she refuses to send the articles over.”

Democrats have been pushing for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to include whether to have witnesses when the Senate votes on impeachment trial guidelines. McConnell has said he wants to follow the precedent set in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial when the body first voted on initial rules and voted on the witness issue only after hearing cases presented by the House and Clinton’s team.

The new bill came after former National Security Advisor John Bolton said he was prepared to testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.

Pelosi said in a statement after Bolton’s announcement: “The President & Sen. McConnell have run out of excuses. They must allow key witnesses to testify, and produce the documents Trump has blocked, so Americans can see the facts for themselves. The Senate cannot be complicit in the President’s cover-up.”

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