WASHINGTON: The day after the House cast votes to impeach President Donald Trump, Democrats grappled on Thursday with when to send the charges to the Republican-led Senate, hoping to gain leverage in a bicameral clash over the contours of an election-year trial.
With some leading Democrats pushing to delay transmittal of the articles and others advocating that they be withheld altogether, it appeared increasingly likely that the limbo could persist until the new year. The House is leaving town on Friday for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, possibly without taking the votes that would be required to start the process in the Senate.
“We are ready,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said Wednesday night that she was reluctant to send the charges or name the lawmakers who would prosecute the case against Trump until she was certain of a fair process for a Senate trial. “When we see what they have, we will know who and how many we will send over.”
Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader, has complicated the picture for Democrats by asserting that he has no intention of acting as an impartial juror in a Senate trial of Trump but would instead do everything in his power, working in concert with the White House, to quickly acquit the president.
But if Pelosi was angling for an upper hand in negotiations about how the trial would proceed, McConnell quickly squashed the notion on Thursday in a scathing speech in which he denounced her and Democrats for impeaching Trump.
“The vote did not reflect what had been proven; it only reflects how they feel about the president,” McConnell said from the Senate floor. “The Senate must put this right. We must rise to this occasion. There is only one outcome that is suited to the paucity of evidence, the failed inquiry, the slapdash case.”
And in comments that underscored the risks Pelosi faces in withholding the articles, McConnell effectively argued that the delay reflected a weak case against Trump, a blink by the Democrats in their standoff with the president. “The prosecutors are getting cold feet in front of the entire country and second-guessing whether they even want to go to trial,” McConnell said. “They said impeachment was so urgent that it could not even wait for due process, but now they’re content to sit on their hands. This is comical.”
In the House, Pelosi shot back at McConnell: “I don’t think anybody expected that we would have a rogue president and a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time.” In her own news conference in the House on Thursday, Pelosi played down the delay over pressing charges in the Senate but declined repeatedly to offer a timeline for when the House might file its case. Pelosi has indicated she will work with House chairmen and Schumer to determine when the articles should be submitted and what meets her standard for fairness.
Source: Economic Times