Partisan Sparring Continues Over Pelosi’s Impeachment Tactics

Stephen Cunningham and Hailey Waller

(Bloomberg) -- Lawmakers and administration officials sparred Sunday about the delay by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in sending articles of President Donald Trump’s impeachment to the Senate.

The House voted on a nearly partly-line basis Dec. 18 to impeach Trump on two counts for allegedly abusing his power. Plans for a Senate trial are on hold for now, since Pelosi hasn’t forwarded the articles, in what’s seen as an attempt to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow witnesses. He has said he wants a quick trial.

“We are quite confident that this position is untenable and she’s going to move it along. She will yield. There is no way she can hold this position,” Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Pelosi’s Delay Tests Democratic Urgency on Trump’s Impeachment

Short said Trump is frustrated by Pelosi’s delay, but “also anxious to get not just acquitted but exonerated in the Senate.”

Senator Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat and 2020 presidential hopeful, said Pelosi has “been a lightworker in dark times” and will do the right thing.

“Those articles will come over,” Booker said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “What she’s just trying to do is to make sure the best possible case for a fair trial happens.”

Democrats continued to criticize a recent vow by McConnell of “total coordination with the White House” on impeachment strategy, which they say violates the Kentucky Republican’s oath of office.

If Trump’s Been Impeached, Senate Trial Can Start: Noah Feldman

The American people are “looking for a fair trial, not a fake trial,” Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Durbin, the number two Senate Democrat, also chided lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for saying how they’re going to vote on Trump before the trial starts.

“I think they have gone too far,” he said. “When it comes to saying, I made up my mind, it’s all over, for goodness’ sakes, that is not what the Constitution envisioned.”

Booker said that anyone in the administration who could affirm Trump’s innocence, including acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, should “come before the Senate. Swear it to an oath.”

Testimony Sought

An ABC/Washington Post poll last week showed that although Americans are sharply divided on Trump’s impeachment, 71% of those surveyed, including almost two-thirds of Republicans, think the president should allow his top aides to testify.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer a week ago asked McConnell for Mulvaney, former National Security Adviser John Bolton, and two other administration officials to testify in the Senate trail, but was rebuffed.

“There’s nothing magic about moving these articles immediately,” Senator Doug Jones, a Democrat from Alabama, said on ABC’s “This Week,” making the comparison with President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

The Clinton articles of impeachment were voted on Dec. 19, 1998. “They didn’t come over to the United States Senate until around January the 6th or 7th, some three weeks later,” Jones said. “There was a change in Congress.”

Pelosi, said Jones, is asking, “what are the rules going to be when I send House managers over there? What kind of playing field are we going to have? What is the timing of this? I don’t think that that’s unreasonable.”

The Speaker herself, in an interview with Politico published on Friday, dismissed a suggestion by McConnell that she was “too afraid” to send him the articles of impeachment.

“Fear is never a word used with me. You should know right away,” Pelosi said. “I’m never afraid and I’m rarely surprised.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Stephen Cunningham in Washington at scunningha10@bloomberg.net;Hailey Waller in New York at hwaller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Ludden at jludden@bloomberg.net, Ros Krasny, Ian Fisher

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.