House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) refused to specify when she’d submit two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate, even as a growing number of lawmakers from her own party said she should transmit the articles to the upper chamber.
“You all keep asking me the same question, I keep giving you the same answer,” Pelosi told reporters during her weekly press briefing on Jan. 9. “As I said right from the start: We need to see the arena in which we’re sending our managers. Is that too much to ask?”
“I’m not holding them indefinitely. I’ll send them over when I’m ready. And that will probably be soon.”
At another point, Pelosi said, “We may send them over. I’m not responsible to Mitch McConnell or anybody else except for my members.”
Pelosi claimed that some Republican senators want to dismiss the case without hearing arguments from the prosecution and defense. It wasn’t clear who she was referring to.
“We would have hoped, like with the Clinton process, that there would have been a bipartisan resolution determining how to proceed,” she said, adding that the impeachment of Trump is not like the impeachment of Clinton, who was ultimately acquitted by the Senate.
“At some point, we would hope that we would see from them what the terms of engagement will be. We are ready. We are proud of our defense of the Constitution of the United States.”
Democrats, who control the House, impeached Trump last month in a partisan vote, with no Republicans voting for it and a handful of Democrats breaking with their party to vote against one or both articles; one Democrat voted “present” on both articles. Republicans have a 53–47 majority in the Senate, where a supermajority is required to convict a president and remove him from office. Only a simple majority is required for acquittal.
Pelosi told reporters before the press conference, about the timeline for sending the articles to the Senate, “I know exactly when, but I won’t be telling you right now.” She read from a piece of paper at the press briefing, listing new evidence since Trump was impeached that she said bolstered Democrats’ impeachment case.
Earlier on Jan. 9, at least two House Democrats publicly called for the articles to be transmitted to the Senate.
“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,” Armed Services Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said.
“It is time to send the impeachment to the Senate and let Mitch McConnell be responsible for the fairness of the trial.”
Smith later said he “misspoke” and supported Pelosi holding onto the articles longer if she thought that was best.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has dismissed notions that Pelosi withholding the articles could influence how the Senate conducts the impeachment trial. He announced this week that Republicans had enough votes to approve rules used in the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, and told lawmakers Jan. 8 that there wouldn’t be any “haggling with the House” over Senate rules.
“We will not cede our authority to try this impeachment,” he said. “The House Democrats’ turn is over. The Senate has made its decision.”
On the Senate floor on Jan. 9 prior to Pelosi’s press conference, McConnell read a quote from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of multiple Senate Democrats who said this week the articles should be sent to the Senate.
“The Speaker of the House has done the impossible,” McConnell said. “The Senate might not agree on much, but it appears most of us still recognize a threat to our institution when we see one.”
McConnell also said that the Senate “will move forward next week with the business of our people,” or its legislative agenda, if it doesn’t get the articles to start a trial.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that Pelosi “has done just the right thing,” claiming the withholding of the articles has left McConnell “frustrated.”
“If the Speaker had sent the articles of impeachment over to the Senate immediately after they passed, Senate Republicans could have moved to dismiss the articles. There was a lot of talk about that a while ago. There wouldn’t have been a fair or even a cursory trial, and they might have even tried to dismiss the whole articles before Christmas,” he said.
“Instead of over the past few weeks not only have they been prevented from doing that, there have been several crucial disclosures of evidence that appear to further incriminate the president, each disclosure bolstering the argument we Democrats have made for a trial that features the relevant witnesses and documents. That has been Speaker Pelosi’s focus from the very beginning. That has been my focus from the very beginning.”
Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said that most Republicans in the Senate expect to receive the impeachment articles “at some point.”
“We will give the president a fair opportunity to be heard, something that was lacking in the House of Representatives,” he said.
“I heard the Democratic Leader’s suggestion that the reason the House had to sit on this is if they sent this over to the Senate, that somehow the Senate would dismiss this early, or immediately, or something along those lines. I have no idea where that comes from. That’s never been the intention here from the Republicans in the Senate.”
“The Republicans in the Senate know full well that we have a job to do under the constitution, in which we hear the case, hear the arguments, ask questions, consider the possibility of additional evidence being presented, and we’ve said all along that that’s how we intend to treat this.”