Top Democrat: Pelosi Withholding Articles of Impeachment Because She’s Unsure of Senate Process

December 21, 2019 Updated: December 22, 2019
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The No. 3 Democrat in the House said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) isn’t sure about the Senate impeachment trial for President Donald Trump, prompting her not to submit articles of impeachment to the upper congressional chamber.

Asked during an appearance on Fox News’ “Cavuto Live” on Dec. 21 why Pelosi hasn’t sent over the articles, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said: “Because we don’t know whether we should send 2 managers or 22 managers. If we knew what the process was, we would know what to do. We do not have a process.”

The host, Neil Cavuto, told Clyburn: “It’s not your process. That’s the Senate’s process, right? You’re not there to judge them anymore than they are to judge you.” He also wondered whether Democrats are appearing “petulant” by not submitting the articles after the partisan inquiry in the House.

“Well, the political process is a little bit like beauty: It’s in the eyes of the beholder,” Clyburn replied. “It looks very good to me and to my constituents. What Nancy Pelosi’s doing is demonstrating once again that we are a country of laws, not of men or women. And in this instance, one man.”

Epoch Times Photo
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks to media at the Capitol in Washington on Dec. 19, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Clyburn previously said Democrats could hold the articles of impeachment indefinitely.

The House approved the two articles against Trump on Dec. 18, but Pelosi said at a press conference shortly after the vote that she wasn’t sending over the resolution containing the articles because she was concerned the Senate wouldn’t have a “fair trial,” noting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this week that he’s “not an impartial juror.”

McConnell has said the case against Trump is weak and that he wants to hold a vote after the initial presentation by House managers and Trump’s team. A simple majority vote could dismiss the articles, while a two-thirds vote is required to convict and remove him from office. Democrats want the inclusion of witnesses to be part of the initial vote on trial guidelines.

Pelosi’s move has sparked widespread confusion on what leverage Democrats think they can get since Republicans hold the Senate 53-47 and no GOP members have indicated they would vote to convict Trump. Some constitutional scholars say an indefinite hold on the articles means Trump isn’t actually impeached—a theory being examined by Trump’s legal team—while others have suggested the Senate can hold a vote to dismiss the case even without receiving the articles.

After McConnell accused Democrat leaders of being “too afraid” to submit the articles, Pelosi told Politico: “I’m never afraid and I’m rarely surprised.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), speaks on the Senate floor, at the Capitol in Washington, on Dec. 19, 2019. (Senate TV via AP)

In a press conference Thursday, Pelosi told reporters “we don’t know the arena we’re in” and accused McConnell and Trump of both going “rogue.”

“When we see what they have, we’ll know who and how many to send over,” Pelosi said, referring to House managers, or people chosen to make the House’s case for why Trump should be removed from office. “The next thing for us … is when we see the process set forth in the Senate. We will have the monitors set forth and who we will choose.”

McConnell said that later Thursday that he and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) were at “an impasse” over the next steps in impeachment.

“Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the articles for some kind of leverage, so they can dictate the Senate process to senators. I admit, I’m not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want. But, alas, if they can figure that out, they can explain it,” McConnell said.

“Meanwhile, other House Democrats seem to be suggesting they’d prefer never to transmit the articles. Fine with me. And the speaker of the House herself has been unclear on this. Her message has been somewhat muddled.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber