Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Calif.) said Friday that she expects to send the articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE over to the Senate next week, breaking the standoff that had delayed the trial over his dealings with Ukraine.

The move, which came amid increasing pressure on the Speaker to drop her hold on the articles, means Democrats will move forward in appointing impeachment managers who will make their case that Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors in Phase Two of the trial, which will weigh whether the president should be removed from office. 

"I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler calls Trump a 'dictator' on Senate floor Poll: Majority think Senate should call witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Susan Collins asked Justice Roberts to intervene after Nadler late-night 'cover-up' accusation MORE [D-N.Y.] to be prepared to bring to the Floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate," Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democrats.

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"I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further," she added.

The Senate trial could begin as early as Wednesday, according to Pelosi’s timeline.

The announcement comes more than three weeks after the House passed two articles of impeachment, largely along party lines, alleging that Trump abused his power while pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate his political opponents and obstructed Congress in Democrats’ inquiry.

Shortly after Trump became the third U.S. president in history to be impeached, Pelosi said she planned to withhold the impeachment articles until she was sure Trump would receive a fair trial, a condition she said included the ability for senators to call in witnesses.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators MORE (R-Ky.) held firm in his stance that any decisions on witnesses should come after the Senate trial begins, in what he described as the same standard for former President Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999.

McConnell deflated much of Pelosi’s leverage earlier this week when he announced that he had enough votes within his GOP conference to vote to begin the trial without acceding to Democrats’ demands to commit to witness testimony first.

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“A majority of this body has said definitively that we are not ceding our constitutional authority to the partisan designs of the Speaker. We will not let the House extend its precedent-breaking spree over here to our chamber,” he said on the Senate floor on Thursday.

McConnell also on Thursday signed onto a resolution from Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyOvernight Health Care: Trump becomes first sitting president to attend March for Life | Officials confirm second US case of coronavirus | Trump officials threaten California funding over abortion law Commerce Department withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon pushback: reports  Top health officials brief senators on coronavirus as infections spread MORE (R-Mo.) that would change Senate rules and allow GOP senators to dismiss articles of impeachment before the House sends them over.

“Leader McConnell’s tactics are a clear indication of the fear that he and President Trump have regarding the facts of the President’s violations for which he was impeached,” Pelosi wrote in Friday’s letter.

The Speaker also faced calls among Democrats for her to end the deadlock, particularly in the Senate, and pass the two articles to the upper chamber.

Several Senate Democrats, including vulnerable Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Schiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Trump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer MORE (W.Va.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Nadler gets under GOP's skin I'm a conservative against Citizens United MORE (Mont.), said earlier this week that it was time for Pelosi to send over the articles.

One of Pelosi’s home-state senators, Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinCalifornia Democrat Christy Smith launches first TV ad in bid for Katie Hill's former House seat Biden wins endorsement of Sacramento mayor Roberts under pressure from both sides in witness fight MORE (D-Calif.), also said this week that “the longer it goes on, the less the urgency becomes.”

And on Thursday morning, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithBroad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa Lawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall MORE (D-Wash.) said on CNN that he believed it is “time to send the impeachment articles to the Senate.”

But in a sign of the power Pelosi wields over Democrats, Feinstein and Smith later reversed themselves and said that they deferred to the Speaker on how to proceed.

Still, just moments before the announcement, Pelosi dismissed reports of Democratic divisions over her impeachment strategy, characterizing them as false narratives manufactured by an obsessed media. She has, she said, "absolutely total cooperation" from within her caucus.

"It cracks me up to see on TV, 'Oh, pressure. Where's the pressure?'" she said. "I have news for them: You don't have a story." 

And Pelosi did reap some new revelations while postponing the delivery of the articles, which she highlighted in her letter.

Former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonSenate Republicans must stand up for the rule of law and ensure a fair, open proceeding Democrats cap impeachment arguments with focus on Trump stonewalling Lindsey Graham will oppose subpoena of Hunter Biden MORE publicly announced Monday that he would be willing to testify if the GOP-controlled Senate subpoenaed him for testimony about what he witnessed.

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His statement immediately sparked a renewed wave among Democrats — as well as some Republicans — saying they want to hear from the former senior official, particularly since Bolton is believed to have key insights on whether Trump withheld a White House meeting and nearly $400 million in U.S. aid in order to pressure Kyiv to open politically motivated investigations into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE and his son, among others.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerVeronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats turn to obstruction charge Liberal super PAC to run digital ads slamming Trump over Medicare comments MORE (D-N.Y.) has also been calling for testimony from acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneySenate Republicans must stand up for the rule of law and ensure a fair, open proceeding Democrats cap impeachment arguments with focus on Trump stonewalling Lindsey Graham will oppose subpoena of Hunter Biden MORE; Robert Blair, an adviser to Mulvaney; and Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget.

Pelosi and Schumer have pointed to a report from Just Security last week showing emails between Duffey and the Pentagon discussing the direction from Trump to hold the military aid to Ukraine, with one official questioning the legality of the delay.

But McConnell remained unswayed by the pressure, as Democrats called for the new witnesses and revelations to be examined in the Senate.  

The episode between the two political powerhouses has also further revealed that both the House and Senate leaders had waded into uncharted waters as it relates to impeachment under the Constitution, with both sides seeking to use the ambiguity of the law to their strategic advantage.

But the delay also foreshadowed what to expect in the coming weeks: Democrats attacking the Senate for holding an unfair trial, particularly McConnell for saying he would be in “total coordination” with the White House on every step. 

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Republicans allies of the president, meanwhile, will continue to blast the impeachment as a partisan sham designed to hurt Trump in an election year. 

But some factors remain unclear as next week comes into focus.

Pelosi has not yet indicated which House lawmakers will serve as impeachment managers, who essentially act as prosecutors in a Senate trial.

But some of the names floated in recent weeks include top lawmakers involved in the impeachment inquiry, such as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Schiff says Justice Roberts should rule on witnesses Schiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line MORE (D-Calif.), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler calls Trump a 'dictator' on Senate floor Poll: Majority think Senate should call witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Susan Collins asked Justice Roberts to intervene after Nadler late-night 'cover-up' accusation MORE (D-N.Y.), and other members of their respective committees. 

The expected timeline also means that a Senate impeachment trial is unlikely to conflict with the scheduled Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday night and force any candidates to remain in the Senate.

The five senators who are running for the Democratic presidential nomination — Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKlobuchar plans campaign rallies across Iowa despite impeachment trial Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Warren pledges to release Trump records if elected MORE (D-Mass.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Human Rights Campaign president rips Sanders's embrace of Rogan endorsement MORE (I-Vt.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar plans campaign rallies across Iowa despite impeachment trial Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa MORE (D-Minn.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetImpeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary MORE (D-Colo.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBlack caucus in Nevada: 'Notion that Biden has all of black vote is not true' The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two Patrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' MORE (D-N.J.) — will have to sideline any expected time on the campaign trail ahead of the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3 once the impeachment trial begins.

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The Senate will move swiftly to the trial once Pelosi sends over the articles. An impeachment trial will trigger a grueling Senate schedule, with the chamber in session six days a week starting at 1 p.m., excluding Sundays.

“In an impeachment trial, every Senator takes an oath to ‘do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws,’ Every Senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the President or the Constitution,” Pelosi wrote.

—Updated at 1:02 p.m. Mike Lillis contributed.