Republicans ramped up their criticism of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday, blasting her decision to withhold sending two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate for trial, as the Constitution requires.
“It’s her duty to turn it over. It’s not some mechanism she can control,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), said of the California Democrat, during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
Pelosi said earlier this month after the House voted for two articles of impeachment — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — that she would not send them to the Senate until she was assured of a “fair trial.”
No House Republicans voted for the articles. Most Democrats did, but a few defected.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would be in charge of setting rules for any impeachment trial, which would be officiated by Chief Justice John Roberts.
For his part, Scalise criticized Democrats for rushing to impeach the president without citing any crimes.
“They had a weak case. I think she knows they had a weak case,” he said. “This is not what our founders intended impeachment to be used for.”
Democrats are supportive of Pelosi’s efforts.
“I think the Speaker is doing everything she can to ensure that there is as fair and open and transparent a process as there can be, particularly given the weight of the evidence,” Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Joe Kennedy said on CNN.
“You don’t go through the first part in the House and then just tee this up for a Senate process where the guy who is going to be in charge of orchestrating the entire Senate trial has said that the whole thing is already baked and cooked and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. You don’t go and do that. That makes a mockery of the entire system,” he added.
Republicans and constitutional experts have countered that the House has no role in designating how a trial will be conducted in the Senate.
Also, Republicans have argued that House Democrats held much of the impeachment inquiry in secret and refused to allow them to call witnesses, a process they note was inherently unfair.
Some constitutional experts have said that the Constitution is silent on how articles of impeachment are to be formally transmitted to the Senate, therefore McConnell could go ahead and schedule a trial anyway since the House has already officially returned two of them.