House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) confirmed that the House will vote to send two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate on Jan. 15. Her statement prompted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to announce that he expects the Senate trial to start next week.
In a statement, Pelosi wrote that Americans “deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial,” saying that the House will vote to transmit the articles—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress—as well as to name House impeachment managers ahead of the Senate trial.
After a Dec. 18, 2019, vote along party lines, Pelosi indicated she would hold off on sending the two articles to the Senate and naming managers until her caucus could see how a potential trial will unfold, including whether the Republican-controlled chamber would call witnesses and subpoena documents.
“I am proud of the moral courage of Members to honor the vision of our Founders for a Republic, the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform to defend it and the aspirations of our children to live freely within it,” Pelosi said in the statement.
While Pelosi has yet to announce who her caucus will send as impeachment managers, it seems likely that key figures in the impeachment inquiry such as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) would be tapped to make their case.
Schiff is considered the architect of the inquiry and led the depositions of witnesses to build a case against Trump. Later, Nadler led the committee that drafted the two articles of impeachment that were passed in the full House vote in 2019.
After nearly a month of delay, Pelosi now faces mounting pressure from both Republicans and Democrats to send over the articles. She had sought to force concessions from McConnell but failed to do so, and McConnell moved to back a resolution in the Senate that would allow the upper chamber to dismiss the articles of impeachment if the House fails to send them within 25 days.
“The House is likely to finally send the articles over to us tomorrow and we’ll be able to—we believe if that happens—in all likelihood, go through some preliminary steps here this week which could well include the chief justice coming over and swearing-in members of the Senate and some other kind of housekeeping measures,” McConnell told reporters on Jan. 14.
On Jan. 14, McConnell disputed the notion that witnesses should be called during the Senate trial. Previously, he’s said that he wants to follow the precedent set during the 1999 impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton, which didn’t feature an initial vote to call witnesses. Later, three witnesses were subpoenaed in closed-door testimonies.
“If the existing case is strong, there’s no need for the judge and the jury to reopen the investigation. If the existing case is weak, House Democrats should not have impeached in the first place,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
The majority leader argued that calls for more witnesses, including Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton, show Democrats “do not show confidence” in their case. Bolton said in a statement on Jan. 6 that he would be willing to testify if he was subpoenaed.
“The Constitution gives the sole power of impeachment to the House. If a House majority want to impeach a president, the ball is in their court, but they have to do the work,” McConnell added.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) defended his party’s request for witnesses on the floor and said any trial without them would be a farce.
“All we’re asking is for the president’s own men, his appointees, to come forward and tell their side of the story,” Schumer said Jan. 14. “The American people want a fair trial in the Senate. … The American people will be able to tell the difference between a fair hearing of the facts and a cover-up.”