Pelosi to send impeachment articles to Senate this week

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to end her showdown with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not fully bring closure to the question of whether the Senate will consider new witnesses, shifting pressure on senators to decide. But while t
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to end her showdown with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not fully bring closure to the question of whether the Senate will consider new witnesses, shifting pressure on senators to decide. But while the rules of the Senate trial remain unsettled, the outcome is not: the President is widely expected to be acquitted of the charges.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

She urges senators to be impartial as they consider charges of abuse against President

WASHINGTON • Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will take steps this week to transmit the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, ending a three-week stand-off but confronting the Senate with only the third trial in US history to remove a chief executive.

In a letter to her Democratic colleagues, Ms Pelosi said on Friday she was proud of their "courage and patriotism" and warned that senators now have a choice as they consider the charges of abuse and obstruction against the President.

"In an impeachment trial, every Senator takes an oath to do 'impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws,'" she wrote. "Every Senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the President or the Constitution."

The trial could begin this week.

The Constitution gives the House the sole power to impeach a president, but the Senate the ability to render a verdict when it convenes as the Court of Impeachment.

Ms Pelosi was particularly upbeat on Friday as she strode through the Capitol, despite the mounting pressure on her to quit delaying the trial.

Her decision to end the showdown with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not fully bring closure to the question of whether the Senate will consider new witnesses, as some want, shifting pressure on senators to decide.

Mr Trump swiftly signalled his intention of blocking any testimony from Mr John Bolton, the brash former national security adviser who could be a wildcard witness in the trial. Mr Bolton has said he would appear before the Senate if he received a subpoena.

At the same time, key centrist GOP Senator Susan Collins of Maine, whose vote is among those most watched, announced on Friday that she was in discussions with other Republicans on a strategy that would allow the Senate to hear new testimony.

While the rules of the Senate trial remain unsettled, the outcome is not. Mr Trump is widely expected to be acquitted of the charges that he abused power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate former vice-president Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and then obstructed Congress in its investigation. No president has ever been removed by the Senate.

"Ridiculous," Mr Trump told Fox News host Laura Ingraham about the Speaker's gambit. "Nancy Pelosi will go down as the least successful Speaker of the House in the history of our nation," he said.

Asked if he would invoke executive privilege to block Mr Bolton's testimony, he said: "Well I think you have to for the sake of the office."

 
 
 

Mr McConnell, who has been working closely with the White House on strategy, said on Friday that the Senate is "anxious to get started".

Republicans have the leverage with a slim 53-47 Senate majority, if Mr McConnell can keep GOP senators on board with his strategy.

So far, they are supportive of modelling the trial after the one used in the last presidential impeachment 20 years ago, of Mr Bill Clinton. It set out a path for starting the trial and voting on witnesses later.

Despite Mr McConnell's wishes for a speedy trial, some Republicans in his caucus have indicated that they are open to witnesses.

It takes just 51 senators to set the rules and Democrats have been trying to win over wavering GOP senators to vote with them on hearing new testimony.

"I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement on how to proceed with the trial that will allow the opportunity for witnesses for both the House managers and the President's counsel if they choose to do so," Ms Collins said. "It is important that both sides be treated fairly."

Since the House vote on Dec 18 to impeach the President, the showdown between Ms Pelosi and Mr McConnell, the two power centres in Congress, has consumed Capitol Hill and scrambled the political dynamics.

The Speaker declined to send the articles to the Senate until she knew there would be a fair trial with witness testimony.

She also asked Mr McConnell for details on the trial structure so she could decide who to appoint as impeachment managers. Mr McConnell rebuffed all her demands.

On Friday, Ms Pelosi ended the stalemate by saying she had asked House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler to be prepared to bring to the floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 12, 2020, with the headline 'Pelosi to send impeachment articles to Senate this week'. Print Edition | Subscribe