House Democrat Says He ‘Misspoke’ When He Said Pelosi Should Send Impeachment Articles to the Senate

January 9, 2020 Updated: January 9, 2020
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A Democratic House chairman said he “misspoke” when he called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to send the impeachment articles to the Senate.

“I misspoke this morning, I do believe we should do everything we can to force the Senate to have a fair trial. If the Speaker believes that holding on to the articles for a longer time will help force a fair trial in the Senate, then I wholeheartedly support that decision,” Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said in a statement on Jan. 9.

“I am concerned that Senator McConnell won’t have a fair trial and I am with the Speaker that we should do everything we can to ensure he does. Ultimately, I do want the articles sent to the Senate for the very simple reason that I want the impeachment process to go forward.”

Earlier Thursday, Smith had appeared on CNN.

“I understand what the speaker was trying to do—basically trying to use the leverage of that to work with Democratic and Republican senators to try to get a reasonable trial, a trial that would actually show evidence, bring out witnesses,” he said during the appearance.

“But at the end of the day, just like we control it in the House, Mitch McConnell controls it in the Senate,” Smith said, referring to the Senate majority leader. “I think it was perfectly advisable for the speaker to try to leverage that to get a better deal. At this point, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.”

“It is time to send the impeachment to the Senate and let Mitch McConnell be responsible for the fairness of the trial,” he added.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) arrives to meet with other House Democrats on the morning following Iranian attacks on bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops, at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 8, 2020. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

CNN anchor Dana Bash said that the comments from Smith were “perilous” politically; he and Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) appeared to be the first House Democrats to call for Pelosi to transmit the articles.

“I think it’s time” to send over the articles, McAdams said early Thursday.

Bash said one House Democrat texted her saying members of the caucus aren’t speaking out publicly because they’re afraid of retribution from the Speaker. A number of Senate Democrats said this week that the articles should be transmitted.

The calls from House Democrats comments came after Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) crafted a resolution calling on Pelosi to send the impeachment articles to the Senate.

Pelosi lacks “the power to effectively veto a resolution passed by a duly elected majority of the House of Representatives by refusing to transmit such a resolution to the Senate,” Graham wrote in the resolution, which he planned on introducing on Thursday.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) walks to the Senate SCIF at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 8, 2020. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

He said Pelosi withholding the articles “is a flagrant violation of the separation of powers expressly outlined in the bicameral impeachment process under the Constitution of the United States.”

“You said it was urgent,” Graham said during a Wednesday night appearance on Fox News. “If you believe it to be urgent, send it to the Senate for disposition.”

Pelosi has said she withheld the articles to try to get a “fair trial” in the Senate. McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate majority leader, has repeatedly dismissed claims that Pelosi had any leverage, telling lawmakers this week that there would be “no haggling” over how the Senate conducts its business.

“The House Democrats’ turn is over. The Senate has made its decision,” he said.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber