Senate

Democratic senators growing impatient with Pelosi on impeachment

Democratic senators are growing impatient over the delayed start of President Trump’s impeachment trial and some say it’s time for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Democratic lawmakers in the upper chamber say Pelosi has achieved her goal of putting a spotlight on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) opposition to witness testimony and they’re ready to start hearing House impeachment managers and Trump’s defense team make their arguments.

“Time plays an unknown role in all of this, and the longer it goes on, the less the urgency becomes. So if it’s serious and urgent, it should come over. If it isn’t, don’t send it over,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top-ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Asked if colleagues are starting to get impatient, Feinstein said, “If it’s going to happen, yes,” referring to the likelihood of a trial actually taking place.

“I’m not a big fan of impeachment but I think there’s enough to take a good look, and we should,” she said.

Feinstein said she doesn’t have “any sense” when the trial may start and neither do her colleagues.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said he’s ready to get the trial started.

“As far as I’m concerned, she can send them over at any time. I’m fine with that,” he said.

Tester said it’s “unfortunate” that Republicans have not agreed ahead of the trial to call key witnesses such as former national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

But he’s ready to get going.

“I’m ready to study it,” he said.

Other Democrats have also weighed in.

“I think it needs to start. I really do,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). “Let us do what we have to do over here.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told The Washington Post on Tuesday that the time has come for Pelosi to act.

“I think the time has passed. She should send the articles over,” he said.

A growing number of Senate Democrats think it doesn’t make much sense for Pelosi to keep holding on to the articles of impeachment because McConnell has already announced he has enough votes to pass an organizing resolution that would set up phase one of the trial without witnesses.

Democratic senators say Pelosi has successfully put a spotlight on McConnell’s opposition to requiring key witnesses and documents, which they say is essential to holding a fair trial.

“I think she’s achieved her goals of both making sure Mitch McConnell just couldn’t move to dismiss [the articles of impeachment] right before Christmas and also to flush out what McConnell’s posture will be,” said another Democratic senator who requested anonymity to discuss party strategy.

The senator said it’s not clear why Pelosi is continuing to hold onto the articles. 

“We’re ready to receive them,” the lawmaker said, speculating that Pelosi hasn’t yet initiated the Senate trial because she is still choosing the team of House prosecutors.

“She has to make decisions about House managers. She just can’t send them over and have selected them,” the source said. 

Once Pelosi sends the articles of impeachment, the Senate trial will begin immediately.

The Senate’s impeachment rules require it to convene at 1 p.m. the day after the presentation of the articles by the House managers and senators will be required to continue in session six days a week — except for Sunday — until the final judgment is reached.

Before proceeding to the articles of impeachment, Chief Justice John Roberts, the presiding officer, will administer the oath of office to all senators.

The Senate’s rules require that the president be immediately notified with a writ of summons that shall ask his defense team to appear before the chamber at a day fixed by the Senate to file its answer to the articles of impeachment. 

Tags Chris Murphy Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Impeachment Joe Manchin John Bolton Jon Tester Mick Mulvaney Mike Pompeo Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi

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