Despite increasing pressure from members of her own party on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) refused to send over to the Senate two articles of impeachment accusing President Donald Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Pelosi said she would not block the impeachment articles forever, and indicated she would send them “soon.” But she added that she’s always pressed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to disclose the rules under which his chamber would conduct the impeachment trial.
“I said from the start, we need to see the arena in which we are sending our managers. Is that too much to ask?” said Pelosi, who has withheld the two articles of impeachment since the House approved them in a party-line vote Dec. 18.
By precedent and per the Constitution, a Senate trial cannot begin until the articles of impeachment are ‘transmitted’ to the upper chamber.
Republicans blasted Pelosi, noting that the House is not responsible for adopting rules for conducting the impeachment trial. And for his part, McConnell has stated repeatedly he would follow the model used in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings in 1999.
The charges against President Trump are ostensibly related to a July phone call with the Ukrainian president in which he reportedly requested a probe into a political rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
Nevertheless, the GOP-controlled Senate vowed to press ahead on Thursday with a trial that is expected to end in acquittal.
Two-thirds, or 67, senators are needed to convict; the House only needs a simple majority to return articles of impeachment.
A group of Democratic senators have called on Pelosi to send over the articles so the upper chamber can begin the process and get it over with.
“We’re all hoping [for] that. I think with the six Democratic senators or so saying that they wanted to see it, that made a big difference,” said Sen. Mike Braun, Indiana Republican.
If Pelosi does continue to stall, however, Republicans are readying a rule change offered by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), that would allow the upper chamber to proceed without the articles being officially transmitted after 25 calendar days.
A senator then could introduce a motion to dismiss the articles “with prejudice for failure by the House of Representatives to prosecute.”