WASHINGTON ― Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continued her standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over the articles of impeachment Thursday, telling reporters she wasn’t holding back the articles “indefinitely,” but reiterating that she wanted answers about a Senate trial before the House transmits the articles.
“We need to see the arena in which we are sending our managers. Is that too much to ask?” Pelosi said.
The speaker added that the House wanted to see what the Senate was willing to do, and the manner in which they will do it, and she said the House would send over the articles when she’s ready. “And that will probably be soon,” Pelosi said.
“Documentation, witnesses, facts, truth ― that’s what they’re afraid of,” Pelosi added.
Pelosi and McConnell have been stuck at an “impasse” ― to use Pelosi’s word ― since the House impeached Trump on Dec. 19. Instead of immediately sending over the articles of impeachment, Pelosi held them back, as part of a gambit to potentially force McConnell to allow witnesses during a Senate trial ― or at least lay out the terms of a trial.
But McConnell hasn’t budged. He says the Senate will only lay out how they’ll proceed with impeachment once they get the articles from the House. And to the disappointment of Democrats, Senate Republicans have gotten in line with McConnell’s request.
That has left Pelosi spinning her wheels. Her gambit has at least attracted attention to McConnell’s seeming intention to dismiss impeachment without a real trial, and it’s given the media time to reveal even more damning facts about the Ukraine scandal.
Pelosi laid out a number of revelations Thursday since the House impeached Trump, including new emails that show a top administration official asked the Pentagon to hold off on releasing the Ukraine aid just 90 minutes after Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a New York Times report on the internal alarm that Trump’s hold on the aid caused, and emails that show the back-and-forth between the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget over the aid holdup.
Former national security adviser John Bolton has also said he would comply with a Senate subpoena for his testimony ― if he receives one.
But the most important aspect of Pelosi’s decision to delay transmitting the articles ― McConnell actually detailing how the Senate will deal with an impeachment trial ― remains unknown. McConnell has said he wants to deal with the case swiftly, and he’s made it known that he’s in lockstep with the White House and does not consider himself an “impartial” juror.
That’s left Pelosi in a tough position, as she wants to ensure that a real trial takes place in the Senate, but lacks the real leverage to do so.
The bargaining chip Pelosi does have is that delaying the almost inevitable acquittal of Trump seems to be driving the president crazy. He has routinely tweeted about the delay and has taken to referring to the Speaker of the House as “Crazy Nancy.”