Trump impeachment: Nancy Pelosi threatens Trump with fresh uncertainty after historic House vote

White House looks for swift vote to clear president by Senate

Andrew Feinberg
Washington DC
Thursday 19 December 2019 05:12 GMT
Trump impeachment: Nancy Pelosi threatens Trump with fresh uncertainty after historic House vote

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has refused to say when Donald Trump’s trial in the Senate will go ahead, creating fresh uncertainty for the president after he was impeached by the House.

Speaking to reporters shortly after the House passed two articles of impeachment against Mr Trump, she repeatedly refused to specify when they would be sent to the upper chamber. She said that would only happen if the Senate agreed to a fair process.

With such a move, the speaker is leaving the issue of impeachment dangling over the president’s head. The White House, along with the Republican leadership of the Senate, would rather there was a vote against the articles – thereby saving Mr Trump – as swiftly as possible.

On Wednesday evening, after around eight hours of speeches by legislators of both parties, Ms Pelosi strode into a post-vote press conference flanked by her committee chairs.

“December 18, a great day for the constitution of the United States, a sad one for America, that the president’s reckless activities necessitated us having to introduce articles of impeachment against him,” said Ms Pelosi, who thanked her chairs for their “tremendous leadership” and dedicated the evening’s effort to her caucus’ “North Star”, the late congressman Elijah Cummings.

“I could not be more inspired by the moral courage of the House Democrats,” she said, adding that she and her leadership team did not have to whip votes to get a majority.

“I view this vote as something we did today to honour the vision of our defend our democracy, and the aspirations of our children.”

When Ms Pelosi was asked if she viewed the House’s role as “complete” or if there was anything her caucus could do to ensure a fair Senate trial for Mr Trump, she responded: “You mean a more fair trial than they [Senate Republicans] are contemplating?”

“We have legislation approved the rules committee to enable us to decide how we will send over the articles of impeachment. We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side, and I would hope that would be soon,” she said.

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“So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us.”

Pressed further on whether she could withhold the articles, she said she and her committee chairs would “make a decision as a group, as we always have”.

When asked what she considered a fair trial, she responded that she did not consider it fair that majority leader Mitch McConnell “has stated that he’s not an impartial juror, that he’s going to take his cues from the White House, and that he’s going to work in total coordination with the White House Counsel’s Office”.

House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler said Mr McConnell’s statement was “certainly an indication of an unfair trial”, after which Ms Pelosi added that she hoped that the White House would make witnesses available.

“But right now, the president is impeached,” she said. “We have done what we set out to do – the House has acted as a very sad day to protect and defend the constitution of the United States, and to do so in a manner that was fair and appropriate and urgent.”

She added: “We will make our decision as to when we send it when we see what they are going to do on the Senate side. This is a serious matter even though the majority leader in the United States Senate says it is ok for the foreman of the jury to be in cahoots with lawyers of the accused.”

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