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Thursday, December 19, 2019
Pelosi Threatens To Delay Sending Impeachment To The Senate
ollowing last night’s impeachment of President Donald Trump by the House of Representatives most observers expected House Democrats to name impeachment managers, i.e. prosecutors, and to refer the matter to the Senate for a trial. In 2019, however, that would be too simple. Today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is hinting that the House may delay in sending the impeachment resolution to the Senate.
The pretext for the possible delay stems fromstatements made by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicansover recent weeks that suggest that Senate Republicans are working with White House lawyers to dispose of the matter as quickly as possible. McConnell told Sean Hannity, “There’s no chance the president’s going to be removed from office” and now Democrats using that statement to claim that the fix is in.
“So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us,” Pelosi told reporters after last night’s vote, perPolitico. “That would’ve been our intention, but we’ll see what happens over there.”
Senior Democratic aides said that Democrats complete the steps for sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate before early January. Earlier this week, Minority Leader ChuckSchumer had proposedthat the Senate take up pre-trial matters on January 6 while requesting that the Senate allow impeachment managers to call witnesses.
McConnell rejected Schumer’s request, saying, “The House chose this road. It is their duty to investigate. It is their duty to meet the very high bar for undoing a national election. If they fail, they fail. It is not the Senate’s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get to ‘guilty.’ That would hardly be impartial justice.”
Even though the House has already passed the articles of impeachment, refusing to refer the matter to the Senate gives Pelosi a measure of control over how the trial is run. It also gives the Speaker a chance to correct what many see as the mistake of ramming the impeachment through too quickly and without enough evidence.
Without their self-imposed deadline, Democrats could have asked courts to enforce the subpoenas and pursued other leads such as testimony fromLev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born Republican fundraiser who worked with Rudy Giuliani. Parnas is currently under house arrest in New York on charges of ” funnel[ing] foreign money to candidates for federal and state office so that the defendants could buy potential influence with the candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments,” per theindictment. Parnas is also facing bribery charges in Ukraine.
Delaying the impeachment referral to the Senate has been advocated by a number of Trump critics in recent days. Former Republican congressman David Jolly and Charlie Sykes discussed the plan in a Bulwark podcast earlier this week. Afterward, Sykes wrote aBulwarkarticle describing the strategy.
“The key here is that there is no requirement that the House immediately send the articles of impeachment to the Senate. This is Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s final card to play,” Sykes wrote. “So here is a modest proposal: the House should (1) vote to impeach on Wednesday, and (2) withhold sending any articles which pass to the Senate unless and until a majority of senators commit to holding an open and fair trial in accordance with the Constitution.”
An open and fair trial is a reasonable request. As my Resurgent colleague,Steve Berman, wrote this morning, voters deserve to know the truth about what happened in connection with the Ukrainian aid. Even if you are a Trump supporter who is totally fine with a quid pro quo for aid, you should have the facts about President Trump’s actions and character.
When the Trump Administration was offered the chance to present evidence and witnesses that could have exonerated the president during the House impeachment process,they refused. Maybe Mr. McConnell can convince the White House to help Congress find the truth.