WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is lashing out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she threw uncertainty into the impeachment process by refusing to say, repeatedly, when or whether she would send two impeachment articles to the Republican-controlled Senate for a trial.
“Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. He wrote that if Democrats didn’t transmit the articles of impeachment “they would lose by Default!”
The House impeached Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress stemming from his pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rival as he withheld U.S. aid.
Pelosi had declined to say late Wednesday when she would send the articles to the Senate. Until they are submitted, the GOP-controlled Senate cannot hold the trial, which is nearly certain to acquit the Republican president.
Pelosi said House Democrats could not name impeachment managers — House prosecutors who make the case for Trump’s conviction and removal from office — until they know more about how the Senate will conduct a trial.
“We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side,” Pelosi said. “And I would hope that that will be soon. … So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us. So hopefully it will be fair. And when we see what that is, we’ll send our managers.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., rejected a proposal earlier this week from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to call several witnesses. McConnell also said that he is coordinating with the White House and declared that “I am not an impartial juror.”
Pelosi said that McConnell “says it’s OK for the foreman of the jury to be in cahoots with the lawyers of the accused. That doesn’t sound right to us.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham blasted Pelosi’s move that would potentially delay the Senate trial, where she said Trump was sure to get a “fair shake” compared to the House.
In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Grisham said Pelosi’s announcement was “Just another gimmick and more changing of the rules.”
Schumer and Pelosi are set to meet Thursday morning, according to a person familiar with the planning who was not authorized to discuss the private meeting.
Asked again if she could guarantee that she would send the articles to the Senate, Pelosi said at the news conference: “That would have been our intention.” But they will see what the Senate decides, she said.
“We are not having that discussion. We have done what we set out to do,” Pelosi said.
An aide to McConnell said he did not have an immediate comment on Pelosi’s remarks. But he tweeted that McConnell would speak about “House Democrats’ precedent-breaking impeachment of the President of the United States” on Thursday morning.
Complicating any decision to delay are House Democrats’ arguments in recent weeks that Trump’s impeachment was needed “urgently,” arguing his actions were a threat to Democracy and the fairness of the 2020 election.
Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, a member of Pelosi’s leadership team, said after her remarks that Democrats want impeachment proceedings that are “judicious and responsible and deliberative.”
He said that while Senate will decide its own procedures, “the speaker’s only point is before she sends it over she needs to understand what that is” because it will influence who the impeachment managers are.
Asked about never sending the articles over, Cicilline said, “I would not speculate that anyone’s even contemplating that.”