POLITICS

Pelosi Takes Victory Lap On Impeachment Delay

"Time has been our friend in all of this because it has yielded incriminating evidence," the House speaker said Wednesday.

WASHINGTON ― House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday celebrated her decision to delay sending impeachment articles to the Senate, saying the delay has greatly benefited the case against President Donald Trump

“Time has been our friend in all of this because it has yielded incriminating evidence,” Pelosi said at a press conference announcing the House would finally vote to send the articles.

The House of Representatives approved the impeachment articles in December on a mostly party-line vote, but Pelosi unexpectedly broke with historical custom and did not immediately send the articles to the Senate. 

Pelosi had said she wanted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to reveal the Senate’s rules for the impeachment trial. He refused to do so, but on Wednesday, Pelosi listed some of the damaging evidence Democrats uncovered since the impeachment vote. 

In late December, for instance, new documents revealed that less than two hours after the July phone call during which President Trump asked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, the Trump administration placed a hold on military assistance to Ukraine. The timing of the hold bolsters Democrats’ impeachment argument that Trump abused his power by leveraging foreign policy for his own personal gain. 

In early January, former national security adviser John Bolton announced he would be willing to testify at an impeachment trial. Several diplomats have said Bolton disapproved of Trump’s Ukraine scheme, which he reportedly once described as a “drug deal.”

And on Tuesday evening, Democrats released a new cache of documents from Lev Parnas, a former aide to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who is a central player in the Ukraine affair. One of the documents is a letter from Giuliani to Zelensky. 

“I am private counsel to President Donald J. Trump,” Giuliani said in the May letter. “Just to be precise, I represent him as a private citizen, not as President of the United States.”

Trump has insisted that when he asked Zelensky to investigate Biden as a “favor” during their July phone call, the favor was for the United States ― not the president personally. The fact that Trump told Zelensky to talk to Giuliani about doing the favor, and that Giuliani emphasized he was the president’s personal attorney, undermines his claim. (It was a dubious claim to start with, since a cadre of diplomats testified that the favors Trump wanted were contrary to U.S. interests.)

The documents “further prove the president was a central player in a scheme to pressure Ukraine for his own benefit in the 2020 election,” Pelosi said.

If the delay strengthened Democrats’ case, then why, a reporter asked Wednesday, did they rush to vote in December in the first place? 

Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who will be one of the impeachment managers in the Senate, said Democrats balanced urgency with a pressure campaign to encourage senators to call witnesses such as Bolton. 

“We’ve always felt a certain urgency about this impeachment given that the president was trying to get foreign help in cheating in the next election,” Schiff said. “You’ve seen additional evidence continue to come to light that not only has bolstered an already overwhelming case, but also has put additional pressure on the Senate to conduct a fair trial.” 

This article has been updated with comment from Schiff.

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