House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday that she will take steps next week to send impeachment articles to the Senate, after delaying the process since last month in a bid to extract favorable terms in a trial.
“I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the Floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate. I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further,” Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to colleagues.
The decision to release the articles came as fellow Democrats in recent days had started to voice frustration and impatience with the speaker’s approach. They stressed the urgency with which impeachment was treated at the end of 2019 and questioned why the House would then delay a trial by using articles as leverage.
Pelosi nevertheless defended her approach in the memo Friday, stressing important new information on the Ukraine controversy at the heart of impeachment that emerged during the interim.
“I am very proud of the courage and patriotism exhibited by our House Democratic Caucus as we support and defend the Constitution,” she wrote. She continued to press the Senate, as she has for weeks, to conduct a “fair trial” with witnesses and documents.
“In an impeachment trial, every Senator takes an oath to ‘do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.’ Every Senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the President or to the Constitution,” she wrote. “No one is above the law, not even the President.”
Pelosi’s demands in recent days included calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to reveal the resolution that would set the terms for the trial before she would transmit the articles.
Pelosi and her allies seemingly wanted a commitment to call certain Democrat-sought witnesses, and at least learn more about McConnell’s plans. But McConnell wouldn’t budge, insisting that the Senate first launch the trial, and then resolve issues surrounding witnesses later, declaring that he would not haggle with Pelosi and accusing her Thursday of playing “irresponsible games.”
While Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had largely backed Pelosi in calling for commitments from McConnell, other Democratic senators began this week to pressure the House to get moving.
“I think it’s time to turn the articles over,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Wednesday on Fox News‘ “America’s Newsroom.” “Let’s see where the Senate can take it.”
Even Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called out Pelosi for the delay.
“The longer it goes on, the less urgent it becomes,” Feinstein told Politico. “So if it’s serious and urgent, send them over. If it isn’t, don’t send it over.”
Sens. Angus King, D-Maine; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; and Chris Coons, D-Del., also came out this week calling for the process to move along.
“I respect the fact that she is concerned about the fact about whether or not there will be a fair trial,” Coons told Politico this week. “But I do think it is time to get on with it.”
McConnell has repeatedly said the resolution to govern the impeachment trial in the Senate would mirror the one used for then-President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999 — setting a timeframe for the trial to begin, with the opportunity for lawmakers to determine how to proceed on potential witness testimony and additional documents later, after both the defense and the prosecution make their opening statements.
McConnell said earlier this week he has the votes needed to pass the resolution and begin the trial, once he receives the articles. In impeachment, most resolutions can pass with a simple majority — 51 votes. To remove the president from office, though, there must be 67 votes.