As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepares to consult with fellow Democrats about sending the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate, she warned Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that an attempt to dismiss the case without a trial or to bar witnesses would be perceived as a "cover-up."
Last month, the House impeached Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and Republicans in the House have called the impeachment effort a partisan hit job.
Pelosi has delayed sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate in an attempt to get McConnell – who has said he is not impartial and wants Trump to be acquitted as quickly as possible – to agree to what she considers a "fair" format for the trial.
McConnell has rejected Pelosi's efforts to negotiate with him, declaring on the Senate floor last week that there "will be no haggling with the House over Senate procedure." On Thursday, McConnell signed on to a resolution introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., to dismiss the articles for "failure to prosecute" if they were not sent to the Senate within 25 days of their adoption by the House, which took place Dec. 18.
"Dismissing is a cover-up," Pelosi warned McConnell on ABC News' "This Week."
The biggest concession Pelosi wanted from McConnell was to allow witnesses to testify in the trial and for additional documents to be allowed to be submitted for evidence. McConnell has refused to commit to allowing witnesses, saying the Senate "will not cede our authority to try this impeachment."
Citing polls that showed about 70% of Americans favor additional witness testimony, Pelosi said McConnell and Senate Republicans will "pay a price" and "will have to be accountable for not having a fair trial."
Among the witnesses Pelosi would like to see testify is former national security adviser John Bolton. He refused to cooperate with Trump's alleged effort to leverage military aid to pressure Ukraine into opening a pair of investigations, which he called a "drug deal," according to witnesses. Bolton said he would be willing to testify if subpoenaed by the Senate after previously saying he would do so only if ordered to by a court.
Critics of House Democrats' handling of the impeachment inquiry have questioned Pelosi's decision not to subpoena Bolton. Pelosi has said that the process was too urgent to wait for the courts to review the case and that there already was enough evidence to warrant Trump's removal from office.
But on Sunday, Pelosi said it was still possible that the House would subpoena Bolton if the Senate does not.
Despite McConnell's refusal to budge on a commitment to allow witnesses, Pelosi defended the strategy of holding onto the articles of impeachment. She said it led to a "positive result" because, in the interval, reporting uncovered emails that appeared to directly tie Trump to the order to delay military aid, and Bolton agreed to testify.
"And more importantly, raising the profile of the fact that we need to have witnesses and documentation, and if we don't that is a cover-up," Pelosi said.
"We wanted the public to see the need for witnesses, witnesses with firsthand knowledge of what happened, documentation which the president has prevented from coming to the Congress," she said.
She said the House Democratic Caucus will discuss when to forward the articles of impeachment to the Senate during its weekly meeting Tuesday morning.
In the interview, host George Stephanopoulos asked Pelosi about a tweet Trump posted Sunday morning telling him to ask "Crazy Nancy" why she allowed House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., to paraphrase the readout from his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
George @GStephanopoulos, ask Crazy Nancy why she allowed Adam “Shifty” Schiff to totally make up my conversation with the Ukrainian President & read his false words to Congress and the world, as though I said it? He got caught! Ask why hearing was most unfair & biased in history?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2020
"It's Sunday morning. I'd like to talk about some more pleasant subjects than the erratic nature of this president," Pelosi said. She added that "every knock from him is a boost" and that "everything he says about somebody else is a projection of his own weakness."
"When he calls someone crazy, he knows that he is. Everything he says you can just translate it back to who he is," Pelosi said.
She said she had resisted impeaching Trump before because "Donald Trump is not worth impeachment."
"But when he crossed that line on Ukraine, he violated the Constitution in such a way that could not be ignored," she said.
Pelosi did not rule out the possibility that the House might file new articles of impeachment against Trump if behavior she thought unconstitutional continued.
"Let's just see what the Senate does," she said. "The ball will be in their court soon."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump impeachment: Nancy Pelosi warns Mitch McConnell on 'cover-up'