Pelosi says Republicans will pay price for denying witnesses for Trump impeachment trial

US Democratic Representative Adam Schiff on Sunday said that if the Republican leader in the Senate succeeded in holding an impeachment trial without witnesses, "that's not a fair trial. That's a cover-up."
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has delayed delivery of the charges for weeks.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has delayed delivery of the charges for weeks.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said House Democrats will determine on Tuesday (Jan 14) when to send formal impeachment charges against President Donald Trump to the Senate, and warned that Republicans will pay a political price for denying a trial with witnesses.

Ms Pelosi, speaking on Sunday on ABC's This Week programme, said her caucus at a regular meeting on Tuesday morning would vote on the timing of sending articles of impeachment to the Senate and naming trial managers in the House.

"I have always said I would send them over. So there shouldn't be any mystery to that," she said.

She has delayed delivery of the charges for weeks to compel Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to agree to include new witness testimony and evidence about Mr Trump's pressure on Ukraine to probe former vice-president Joe Biden, a leading Democrat running for the nomination to face Mr Trump in the November election.

Her gambit appeared to fail as Mr McConnell slammed the door on that idea last week, saying he had enough Republican votes to start the trial without a commitment to hear from additional witnesses, including former Trump national security adviser John Bolton.

Mr Bolton has said he would be willing to testify if subpoenaed by the Senate.

Ms Pelosi insisted her delay helped make American voters aware of the need for a "fair trial" with witness testimony and evidence. If Mr McConnell continues to block such proceedings, Republicans would pay a political price.

"I think that he will be accountable to the American people for that," she said.

The Senate, where Mr Trump's Republican party holds a majority, is widely expected to acquit the president of the charges, as no Republicans have voiced support for ousting him, a step that would require a two-thirds majority.

 
 
 

Nonetheless, Democrats want a longer trial that turns up more information about Mr Trump's efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open a Biden probe, including a July 25 phone call between the leaders.

As the 2020 US presidential campaign heats up, they believe this will turn some voters against Mr Trump.

The Democratic-controlled House, in a party-line vote, impeached Mr Trump on Dec 18 on charges of abusing power and obstructing Congress. Mr Trump says he did nothing wrong and has dismissed his impeachment as a partisan bid to undo his 2016 election win.

He sent several tweets on Sunday criticising Ms Pelosi and the Democratic-led impeachment effort.

"This phoney impeachment hoax should not even be allowed to proceed. Did nothing wrong. Just a partisan vote. Zero Republicans. Never happened before!" Mr Trump said on Twitter.