House chairman walks back comments urging Pelosi to send impeachment articles to Senate

 

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithCapitalism in orbit Republicans stand by Esper after public break with Trump Overnight Defense: Trump's move to use military in US sparks backlash | Defense officials take heat | Air Force head calls Floyd's death 'a national tragedy' MORE (D-Wash.) on Thursday quickly walked back comments urging Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi scoffs at comparison between Trump and Churchill: 'I think they're hallucinating' Republicans stand by Esper after public break with Trump Pelosi joins protests against George Floyd's death outside Capitol MORE (D-Calif.) to send President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests MORE's impeachment articles to the Senate. 

Earlier in the morning, Smith said on CNN's "New Day" that it is "time to send the impeachment articles to the Senate and let [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes bill to give flexibility for small business coronavirus aid program On The Money: GOP turning against new round of ,200 rebate checks | Millions of Americans frustrated by delayed unemployment checks | Senate votes to give coronavirus relief program more flexibility Rand Paul holding up quick passage of anti-lynching bill MORE (R-Ky.)] be responsible for the fairness of the trial."

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Just hours later, Smith tweeted that he "misspoke" and that he would "wholeheartedly support" Pelosi if she feels continuing to withhold the articles would "help force a fair trial in the Senate."

"I am concerned that Senator McConnell won’t have a fair trial and I am with the Speaker that we should do everything we can to ensure he does," he added in a separate tweet. "Ultimately, I do want the articles sent to the Senate for the very simple reason that I want the impeachment process to go forward."

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The reversal comes as Pelosi faces increasing pressure to transfer the House-passed articles to the upper chamber for a trial. Pelosi has so far refused in an attempt to gain more details about what the proceedings would look like. 

The House in December voted to impeach Trump, making him just the third president in U.S. history to face removal. The lower chamber voted on articles alleging Trump abused his power and obstructed Congress. 

Pelosi has said that Democratic leadership needs to "see what the process is on the Senate side" before it turns over the impeachment articles. In a "Dear Colleague" letter earlier this week, she warned that she would not turn over the articles until McConnell released a resolution detailing the rules of the trial. 

The move frustrated McConnell, who said Wednesday that he would not "haggle" with Democrats over the articles. 

"I've made clear from the beginning that no such leverage exists. It's nonexistent, and yesterday we made clear it will never exist. ... There will be no haggling with the House over Senate procedure," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

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Multiple Democratic senators, including Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinRosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony Democrats aim to amend Graham subpoena to include Trump allies Graham announces hearing on police use of force after George Floyd killing MORE (D-Calif.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyMissouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Khanna says President Trump threatening violence against US citizens; Trump terminating relationship with WHO Senators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day MORE (D-Conn.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight Stakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December MORE (D-W.Va.) have said that it is time for Pelosi to send the articles to McConnell. 

“I think it needs to start. I really do,” Manchin said. “Let us do what we have to do over here.”

—Updated at 10:48 a.m.