House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she’s preparing to send the impeachment articles to the Senate next week to start the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
“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,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to her caucus. “I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further.”
Pelosi told reporters earlier in the day that there would not be a vote Friday to name impeachment managers, a sign that the weeks-long impasse over starting the trial in the Senate would continue at least into next week.
“No,” Pelosi told reporters when asked if she would hold a vote before lawmakers leave town for the weekend on naming impeachment managers, a procedural step that’s necessary before the articles of impeachment are sent to the Senate.
Pelosi left open the door that she could still make an announcement about her plans for impeachment later Friday, though because of the legislative mechanics behind the impeachment process, the House would still need to vote to send the articles to the Senate. Asked Friday about when she will make an announcement on about her plans, she said, “I’ll be communicating with my members, and perhaps we’ll see that.”
Neither Pelosi nor Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have yet budged in their stare down over the two impeachment articles that the House passed last month, charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Pelosi has withheld the articles from the Senate, preventing the chamber from beginning the impeachment trial, as Democrats have pushed for McConnell to allow witnesses to testify in the Senate trial. Pelosi has said she wants to see the “arena” that the impeachment managers will operate in during the trial before naming them and sending the articles to the Senate.
But McConnell has said he will not publish the rules resolution ahead of time and will not agree to witnesses before the trial begins. He’s argued that the Senate should agree to a rule to begin the trial and then later decide on witnesses, just as the Senate did during the 1999 impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton. And he said this week he’s got the votes — all Republicans — to go that route.
Democrats argue that McConnell is not following the Clinton precedent, because the Senate witnesses in that trial had already testified before a grand jury, while the witnesses Senate Democrats are seeking — including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — refused to testify during the House’s impeachment inquiry.
Bolton’s statement earlier this week that he would testify in a Senate trial, if subpoenaed, prompted a new push from Democrats to agree to witnesses, but that has not moved McConnell or the Senate GOP conference. In order for witnesses to testify, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would have to peel off four Republican senators to vote for approving them.
As Pelosi has continued to hold the impeachment articles, Democrats in both the House and Senate have grown restless over the delay, with numerous Democrats saying publicly that Pelosi should transmit the impeachment articles and allow the trial to begin.
Pelosi wouldn’t tip her hand on Thursday, saying at her weekly news conference she would send them when she’s “ready,” but predicting it would be “soon.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Friday.