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Trump impeachment charges may go to Senate as early as next week

  • Published at 11:56 pm January 11th, 2020
Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump rallies with supporters in Toledo, Ohio, US on January 9, 2020 Reuters

Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House, has been engaged in a three-week cat-and-mouse game with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the rules for Trump's trial in the Republican-controlled Senate

The Democratic-led US House of Representatives will send formal impeachment charges against President Donald Trump to the Senate as early as next week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday, setting the stage for his long-awaited trial.

Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House, has been engaged in a three-week cat-and-mouse game with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the rules for Trump's trial in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Democrats have demanded it include new witness testimony and evidence about the Republican president's pressuring of Ukraine to probe former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democrat running for the right to face Trump in the November election.

McConnell slammed the door on that idea this week, saying he had enough Republican votes to start the trial without a commitment to hear from additional witnesses, including former Trump national security adviser John Bolton.

Democrats are trying to convince a few moderate Republican senators to allow witnesses. One moderate, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, told reporters in her home state that she and a "fairly small group" of her fellow Republican senators are working to ensure witnesses can be called.

The Senate is expected to acquit Trump before the 2020 presidential election campaign heats up, as no Republicans have voiced support for ousting him, a step that would require a two-thirds majority.

In a letter to House Democratic lawmakers on Friday, Pelosi said a resolution could be brought up next week to appoint House "managers" to prosecute the case against Trump at the trial and to transmit the impeachment charges to the Senate.

Last month, the House adopted a rule allowing Democrats to quickly bring up a resolution naming managers, and to vote on it after only 10 minutes of debate. That means the House could vote as soon as Tuesday.

House Democrats have said Pelosi could name up to 10 lawmakers as managers, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who spearheaded the impeachment probe, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

Pelosi has declined to submit the charges, or articles of impeachment, to the Senate. She was seeking leverage for Democrats to negotiate rules of the trial, which cannot begin until the charges are transmitted.

Democrats fear McConnell plans to hold a cursory trial without hearing all the evidence. Adding to their concerns, McConnell has backed a Republican-backed resolution that would clear the way for senators to dismiss the charges before the House submits them.

"A dismissal is a cover-up and deprives the American people of the truth," Pelosi said in her letter, accusing McConnell of intending to "stonewall." She said she would consult with House Democrats on how to proceed on Tuesday.

The House impeached Trump on December 18 on charges of abusing power and obstructing Congress. The investigation was sparked by a whistleblower's complaint about Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Trump says he did nothing wrong and has dismissed his impeachment as a partisan bid to undo his 2016 election win.

"Well I think it’s ridiculous. She [Pelosi] should have sent them a long time ago. It just belittles the process," Trump said in an interview with Fox News on Friday.

White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said White House counsel Pat Cipollone would lead Trump's defense and outside counsel Jay Sekulow would be involved.