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Pelosi faces decision on articles of impeachment

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Energy: Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post Trump against boycotting Beijing Olympics in 2022 House Democrats' campaign arm raises almost million in May MORE (D-Calif.) is likely to decide in the coming days whether to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate as the upper chamber remains in a stalemate over how to conduct a trial. 

Both sides have dug in more than two weeks after the House passed the articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald TrumpWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Black Secret Service agent told Trump it was offensive to hold rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth: report MORE over his dealings with Ukraine and his efforts to undermine lawmakers’ inquiry. 

Pelosi withheld the articles to gain leverage in the debate over the trial’s rules, but there’s little sign the maneuver is putting any pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham quips key to working with Trump: We both 'like him' The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl MORE (R-Ky.).

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At least two key moderate Republicans have expressed concerns about McConnell’s coordination with the White House on impeachment strategy, but none have made any specific demands.

While Pelosi and McConnell both kept low profiles over the holidays, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), has held multiple press conferences from New York to call for testimony from key witnesses and production of documents from the Trump administration.

The effort appears to be an attempt to put pressure on McConnell, and to set up the argument that Republicans are organizing a sham trial in the Senate.

Schumer this week seized upon a New York Times report detailing how top officials knew of the hold on the military aid to Ukraine. Bolton, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? MORE and Secretary of Defense Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military | Military guns go missing | New White House strategy to battle domestic extremism Top admiral shoots back at criticism of 'woke' military: 'We are not weak' Cotton, Pentagon chief tangle over diversity training in military MORE tried but failed to convince Trump in a previously undisclosed Oval Office meeting that releasing the aid was in America’s national security interest. 

Schumer called the New York Times report a “game changer.”

“This story makes the choice even clearer: Will the Senate hold a fair trial, or will it enable a cover-up?” Schumer said at a Monday press conference. “President Trump, if you are so confident you did nothing wrong: why won’t you let your men testify? What are Sen. McConnell and President Trump afraid of if all the facts come out?”

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Schumer also hailed new emails published by Just Security on Thursday that showed Defense Department officials' alarm over the hold on the nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine as a "devastating blow." One email from late August showed Michael Duffey, associate director of national security at the Office of Management and Budget, telling the acting Pentagon comptroller: “Clear direction from POTUS to hold.”

Schumer is pressing for testimony from four witnesses who declined to appear in the House impeachment inquiry: acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE, senior Mulvaney adviser Robert Blair, former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonUS drops lawsuit, closes probe over Bolton book John Bolton: Biden-Putin meeting 'premature' Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process MORE and Duffey. 

Lawmakers predicted that the impeachment process will fully kick back into gear next week when both chambers of Congress come back into session. But so far both parties have spent recent days holding ever more tightly to their positions.

Rank-and-file Democrats are supportive of Pelosi’s strategy, but holding the articles indefinitely could pose risks for moderates who don’t want the impeachment process to drag on deep into an election year. 

Rep. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinDemocrats seize on GOP opposition to Jan. 6 commission Hillicon Valley: Democrats urge Facebook to abandon 'Instagram for kids' plan | 'Homework gap' likely to persist after pandemic Legislation to secure critical systems against cyberattacks moves forward in the House MORE (D-Mich.), a freshman who represents a district that Trump carried in 2016, said before the recess that holding the articles temporarily seemed reasonable.

“I think that it can't drag on forever,” Slotkin told reporters in the Capitol. “But I think it's all right to ask for the process and what it will actually look like when it hits the Senate.”

Pelosi’s decision has got under the skin of Trump, who has repeatedly criticized it over the holidays from his Mar-a-Lago estate.

“Remember when Pelosi was screaming that President Trump is a danger to our nation and we must move quickly,” Trump wrote in a Dec. 31 tweet criticizing Pelosi as reversing her call for impeachment to be conducted in a timely fashion.

“They produced no case so now she doesn’t want to go to the Senate. She’s all lies. Most overrated person I know!”

Democrats will want to show that they’ve achieved something by holding the articles.

“Simply saying that it's urgent and moving in the House based on that urgency and then handing it over to a Senate that will simply dismiss this and not really deal with it in a fair and open fashion doesn't address the urgency of the situation,” Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeeUS files first trade complaint against Mexico over tampered union vote at GM plant NC House ending remote voting for lawmakers House GOP campaign arm adds to target list MORE (D-Mich.) said on CNN's “New Day.”

Others predicted that there will be more movement next week when lawmakers return to Washington.

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“I suspect the first week of January you'll see all of this ironed out. And then Speaker Pelosi will be in an appropriate position to be able to say, OK, here's what we're looking for. Here's the kind of managers that will be best suited for those kinds of witnesses and the documents and the questions that are inevitably going to be asked,” Rep. John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiThe stakes couldn't be higher as Biden prepares his nuclear posture review Air Force aborts ICBM test before launch Biden offers traditional address in eerie setting MORE (D-Calif.) said on “CNN Newsroom.”

Then there’s the fact that the first presidential primary contest is now only a month away. Many Democrats said throughout the impeachment inquiry that they hoped for the process to wrap up by the Iowa presidential caucuses on Feb. 3. 

Five candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination have a personal stake in that as well: Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle OVERNIGHT ENERGY:  EPA announces new clean air advisors after firing Trump appointees |  Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior | Watchdog: Bureau of Land Management saw messaging failures, understaffing during pandemic MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats have turned solidly against gas tax Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 Democratic senators press PhRMA over COVID-19 lobbying efforts  MORE (D-Mass.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl Hillicon Valley: Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC | Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cyber during summit with Putin | TSA working on additional security regulations following Colonial Pipeline hack Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC MORE (D-Minn.), Cory BookerCory BookerDemocrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Zombie Tax punishes farmers to fill DC coffers Rand Paul does not support a national minimum wage increase — and it's important to understand why MORE (D-N.J.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSchumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' Past criticism of Trump becomes potent weapon in GOP primaries Hillicon Valley: Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC | Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cyber during summit with Putin | TSA working on additional security regulations following Colonial Pipeline hack MORE (D-Colo.) will be kept off the campaign trail during the impeachment trial.

McConnell, who is up for reelection next year and is seeking to protect the GOP’s majority in the Senate, will be watching what his colleagues say closely.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump endorses Murkowski challenger Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle Senate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office MORE (R-Alaska) said last week that she was “disturbed” about McConnell’s pledge to maintain coordination with the White House over the trial.

“To me, it means that we have to take that step back from being hand in glove with the defense, and so I heard what Leader McConnell had said, I happened to think that that has further confused the process,” Murkowski told KTUU.

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Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWhite House reiterates opposition to raising gas tax amid infrastructure debate Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle Lawmakers rally around cyber legislation following string of attacks MORE (R-Maine), who faces a reelection context next year in a state where Trump lost thee of the four electoral votes to Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Monica Lewinsky responds to viral HBO intern's mistake: 'It gets better' Virginia governor's race poses crucial test for GOP MORE, said that senators should not “prejudge” the evidence and appeared to criticize McConnell as well while also taking a shot at Warren.

“I have heard Democrats like Elizabeth Warren saying that the president should be impeached, found guilty and removed from office. I've heard the Senate majority leader saying that he's taking his cues from the White House. There are senators on both sides of the aisle, who, to me, are not giving the appearance of and the reality of judging that's in an impartial way,” Collins told Maine Public Radio

Collins also said that she was “open” to witnesses, but appeared to back McConnell’s idea that a decision on who should testify should wait until after both sides present opening arguments. 

But one member of Senate GOP leadership predicted that the impeachment trial would be “pretty predictable” and happen “quickly.”

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntOvernight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' MORE (R-Mo.) told Missouri radio station KSSZ that he expected that the trial would be finished by the time Trump comes to Capitol Hill to deliver his State of the Union address on Feb. 4.

“My guess is we'll be done with this by the time the president comes,” Blunt said.