Democrats rally behind Pelosi on delay of articles
House Democrats on Thursday are rallying behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after she said she’ll delay the delivery of impeachment articles to the Senate in an effort to ensure a fair trial.
President Trump has urged a speedy trial in the upper chamber, and Pelosi’s allies argue that delaying the delivery of the articles will put pressure on Senate GOP leaders to call witnesses and seek more evidence surrounding the president’s dealings with Ukraine — steps Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he’ll not take.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Pelosi’s delay strategy made for “a very wise decision on her part.”
“I think it gives her leverage; it gives the House leverage in terms of making sure that it’s not going to be a kangaroo court over there,” she told reporters in the Capitol. “If, in fact, they intend to not be an impartial reviewer of the facts, then it becomes a joke. And we’re not party to a joke.”
McConnell has shown no indication he’s ready to budge. Aside from refusing new witnesses, he’s also announced that he’ll work closely with the White House as the trial proceeds, a stance that has infuriated Democrats who say as an impeachment juror he should be taking steps to be impartial.
But McConnell has rejected that argument.
“I’m not impartial about this at all,” he told reporters Tuesday in the Capitol.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Thursday that those comments should make McConnell ineligible to oversee the impeachment trial.
“Mitch McConnell has a problem. Mitch McConnell has said that he’s going to work hand-and-glove with the White House. He has said that he’s not a fair juror. I don’t understand how he can possibly take the oath that he’s required to take,” Nadler said.
“Mitch McConnell, I think, has disqualified himself from taking the oath of participating.”
The debate arrives the morning after House Democrats passed two impeachment articles through the lower chamber: one accusing the president of abusing his power in his dealings with Ukraine, the other alleging that he obstructed Congress as Democrats sought to investigate the affair.
Shortly afterward, Pelosi said Democrats would not send those articles to the Senate immediately, citing an “unfair” process being prepared by GOP leaders in the upper chamber.
“So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us,” she added.
That strategy was not new: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had said as much on Tuesday. But Pelosi also left open the possibility that the delay could be extensive, even permanent, as some liberals in her caucus are promoting the idea of preventing the Senate trial from ever happening at all.
Yet most Democrats on Thursday dismissed the idea that the House would delay the deliver forever.
“I would doubt that,” said Nadler, quickly deferring the decision to Pelosi.
“I don’t think there’s anything that the Speaker said last night [to] suggest that this it’s permanent,” echoed Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) agreed, suggesting there are political risks if Democrats wait too long.
“I don’t think it’s something we would want to drag out forever,” he said, “but obviously it makes sense.”