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

 

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Overnight Defense: Pentagon set for tighter virus restrictions as top officials tests positive | Military sees 11th COVID-19 death | House Democrats back Senate language on Confederate base names House Democrats back slower timeline for changing Confederate base names MORE (D-Wash.) on Thursday quickly walked back comments urging Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiVoters want a strong economy and leadership, Democrats should listen On The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus Democrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus MORE (D-Calif.) to send President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit 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 McConnellFeinstein to step down as top Democrat on Judiciary Committee Voters want a strong economy and leadership, Democrats should listen On The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus 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 FeinsteinDurbin seeks to become top-ranking Democrat on Judiciary panel Feinstein to step down as top Democrat on Judiciary Committee Bottom line MORE (D-Calif.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Biden decides on pick for secretary of State Overnight Defense: Formal negotiations inch forward on defense bill with Confederate base name language | Senators look to block B UAE arms sales | Trump administration imposes Iran sanctions over human rights abuses MORE (D-Conn.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinVoters split on eliminating the filibuster: poll OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee 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.