Pelosi: ‘Rogue’ McConnell must decide next steps on impeachment articles

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that, when it comes to next steps on impeachment, the ball is squarely in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) court.

Although the House approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump on Wednesday night, Pelosi has declined to send them to the Senate, saying Democrats first need to see the rules underlying the trial stage in the upper chamber to ensure the process is fair.

“The next thing for us will be when we see the process that is set forth in the Senate, then we’ll know the number of managers that we may have to go forward, and who we would choose,” Pelosi said Thursday during a press briefing in the Capitol.

In a dig at McConnell, she suggested he’d gone “rogue.”

“Our founders, when they wrote the Constitution, they suspected that there could be a rogue president,” she said. “I don’t think they suspected that we could have a rogue president, and a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time.”

McConnell has said he won’t call witnesses or seek new evidence in the trial phase. He’s working with the White House on strategy, he says, and has described himself as “not impartial about this at all.”

Given those dynamics, liberal House Democrats have pressed party leaders to delay the transfer of the articles to the Senate — a strategy designed to give Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) more leverage as he and McConnell negotiate the rules underlying the trial stage.

Pelosi has characterized McConnell’s approach as inherently unfair. But on Thursday she didn’t rule out the option of transmitting the articles to the Senate. 

“We would like to see a fair process, but we’ll see what they have, and we’ll be ready for whatever it is,” she said.

Pelosi said she huddled with the six committee leaders with jurisdiction over impeachment late Wednesday night, when they discussed how the process unfolded during the impeachment of former President Clinton in 1998. Then, she noted, the Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate united to forge rules agreeable to both sides. The result?

“One hundred senators voted for the process on how they would go forward,” she said. “We would hope that they could come to some conclusion like that. But in any event we’re ready. When we see what they have, we’ll know who and how many we will send over.”

With Congress scheduled to recess for the long holiday break at the end of the week, leaders are scrambling to find some accommodation that satisfies all sides.

Pelosi is meeting with Schumer Thursday morning. And Schumer and McConnell are expected to meet in the afternoon. 

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Impeachment Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi
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