Pelosi faces decision on articles of impeachment

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Bass on filling Harris's Senate spot: 'I'll keep all my options open' Win by QAnon believer creates new headaches for House GOP 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 John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' 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 McConnellOn The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate Democrats say White House isn't budging in coronavirus relief stalemate 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 PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTurkey's search for oil may spill over into conflict with Greece The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden, Harris's first day as running mates Watchdog: Trump's UK envoy made inappropriate remarks on religion, race, sex MORE and Secretary of Defense Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Trump reportedly considering replacing Esper after election | FBI, Air Force investigating after helicopter shot at in Virginia | Watchdog says UK envoy made inappropriate comments on religion, race, sex Trump eyes replacing Esper after election: reports Overnight Defense: Esper confirms plans to drop below 5,000 troops in Afghanistan | State Department says it's cleared of wrongdoing in emergency arms sales before investigation's release 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 MulvaneyFauci says positive White House task force reports don't always match what he hears on the ground Bottom line White House, Senate GOP clash over testing funds MORE, senior Mulvaney adviser Robert Blair, former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement Ex-Trump adviser, impeachment witness Fiona Hill gets book deal Hannity's first book in 10 years debuts at No. 1 on Amazon 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 SlotkinPaul Junge wins Michigan GOP primary to challenge Elissa Slotkin Overnight Defense: US formally rejects Beijing's South China Sea claims | House set to consider defense policy bill next week | 57 injured as firefighters battle warship blaze House Democrat warns about 'inaccurate' polls: Trump voters 'fundamentally undercounted' 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 KildeeDemocrats set to hold out for big police reform More than 100 Democrats press Trump to extend jobless benefits Pelosi makes fans as Democrat who gets under Trump's skin 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 GaramendiWuhan is the final straw: The world needs to divest from China GOP seizes on 'defund the police' to galvanize base Peace Corps faces uncertain future with no volunteers in field 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 SandersOcasio-Cortez's 2nd grade teacher tells her 'you've got this' ahead of DNC speech Trump and allies grapple with how to target Harris Chris Wallace: Kamala Harris 'not far to the left despite what Republicans are gonna try to say' MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenNew poll shows Markey with wide lead over Kennedy in Massachusetts Trump and allies grapple with how to target Harris Chris Wallace: Kamala Harris 'not far to the left despite what Republicans are gonna try to say' MORE (D-Mass.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharElection security advocates see strong ally in Harris The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence California Democrats back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup MORE (D-Minn.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerOn The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Booker hits back at Trump tweet, mocks misspelling of name MORE (D-N.J.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetKamala Harris makes history — as a Westerner Expanding our health force can save lives and create jobs simultaneously How Congress is preventing a Medicare bankruptcy during COVID-19 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 MurkowskiBipartisan senators ask congressional leadership to extend census deadline Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS 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 CollinsProgressive Jewish group endorses Biden Poll: Gideon leads Collins by 8 points in Maine Senate race The Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement 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 ClintonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden, Harris make first public appearance as running mates Trump campaign spox rips GOP congressman over rejection of QAnon conspiracy Biden hits back after Trump's attacks on Harris 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 BluntDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal GOP expects Senate to be in session next week without coronavirus deal 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.