House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats Friday that she was prepared to send the articles of impeachment passed by the House to the Senate for trial, despite a month-long delay to the process. The Speaker revealed her intentions in a letter to her Democrat colleagues and obtained by reporters.
“I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler 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 the letter. “I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting.”
Pelosi’s announcement marked a sudden reversal of her decision to delay the trial and try to force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to commit to calling additional witnesses and evidence in the trial.
Senate Democrats pressured Pelosi to drop her attempt to draw out concessions from McConnell, an idea that she reportedly got from watching CNN. Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hamil confirmed on Twitter that the articles would be sent to the Senate next week.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reportedly came up with the idea of withholding the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump from the Senate by watching CNN, according to Time magazine.
Time reported Thursday that Pelosi was inspired by an on-air suggestion from John Dean, the disgraced former White House counsel for President Richard Nixon who went to federal prison for his role in the Watergate cover-up and is a frequent CNN guest today.
Time report by Molly Ball (via Byron York of the Washington Examiner) says:
The following day, Pelosi presided over the floor vote on impeachment, wearing a striking black suit to project solemnity, accessorized with a large gold brooch of the Mace of the Republic, a symbol of the House. When scattered cheers broke out inside the chamber after the first article was approved, she sternly and silently shushed them with a glare and a sharp gesture. After the vote, she announced that she did not plan to transmit the articles right away, saying she could not determine how to appoint House impeachment managers until the Senate decides on its rules for the trial."
Previously, reports suggested that Pelosi had been taking the advice of Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe, who also advised Democrats that they could withhold the articles of impeachment as leverage — even though the Constitution says explicitly that “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.”
There is nothing in the text of the Constitution describing the transmission of articles of impeachment. Current Senate rules suggest that the trial follows the transmission of the articles, though the rules can be changed by a majority vote.
Pelosi’s gambit has been something of a strategic disaster. She and her party rushed the impeachment — even skipping or withdrawing subpoenas for witnesses — on the argument that the president needed to be removed from office urgently to prevent him from soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election. However, the House has delayed the transmission of the articles of impeachment to the Senate for more than three weeks.
Democrats argue they are using the articles as leverage to force the Senate to conduct what they consider a “fair” trial, with additional witnesses and documents, but that argument is being mocked by Republicans, who note that Democrats departed from past precedents and basic procedural fairness when conducting their rushed impeachment in the House.