The latest on President Trump's impeachment
Senate Democrats are growing eager to start President Trump's impeachment trial, a sign that patience is growing thin amid the standoff between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The delay is upsetting efforts for senators to plan — both their work and personal schedules as well as their legislative efforts — amid the uncertainty over the standoff, according to multiple senators.
While most Democrats said it was the speaker's decision on when to send the articles, they made clear that the trial should start soon, hoping as early as next week.
Here's what they said:
- Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, said "it's probably time" to begin the trial, but added he would leave the decision on sending the articles to Pelosi. "I think Mitch McConnell made clear what he's moving forward in terms of rules," he said.
- Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, said: "My hope is that we'll be able get the trial started next week." Murphy added: "I think if we're trying to create leverage on the Republicans, that leverage really exists when we put them on the record on motions to call witnesses."
- Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the senior Connecticut Democrat, added: "I'm ready to begin the trial tomorrow. As a former prosecutor, I'm ready to go to court."
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff defended the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to hold the articles of impeachment, saying it has already had "a very salutary effect, in fleshing out what Mitch McConnell intends to do."
He added that he would "leave it to the speaker" to talk about when she will send the impeachment articles over to the Senate.
Schiff would not answer when asked if he would subpoena former White House national security adviser John Bolton, but said Senators "ought to demand" that Bolton testify in the Senate trial.
“I will leave it to the speaker to discuss the issue of the timing in terms of the transmission of the articles. We do expect to take action on the Iran issue this week, and once again insist on Congress’s prerogative to declare war or to refuse to authorize war," Schiff said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats continue to wait and "see what the terms are" for a Senate impeachment trial.
“How we choose our managers depends on what the arena is we are going into,” she said as she left the weekly Democratic caucus meeting today.
While the House approved two articles of impeachment last month, Pelosi has yet to formally introduce them to the Senate, so a trial has not yet been set.
House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries told reporters at his press conference afterward that there was no discussion of when the House will send articles of impeachment to the Senate during this morning’s meeting.
He said he supports Pelosi’s decision.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor this morning that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has no leverage in determining the rules of the Senate trial.
He said a majority of the Senate has decided that the first phase of the impeachment trial “should track closely” with the “unanimous, bipartisan precedent” that 100 senators supported during the 1999 Clinton trial.
“There will be no haggling with the House over Senate procedure,” said McConnell. “We will not cede our authority to try this impeachment. The House Democrats’ turn is over. The Senate has made its decision.”
He also said the 1999 precedent “neither guarantees witnesses nor forecloses witnesses.”
“Late last year Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats sped through a slapdash impeachment of President Trump in 12 weeks because they insisted the need to undo the 2016 election was urgent,” said McConnell. “Since then, the same people spent three weeks dragging their heels and refusing to proceed to a Senate trial. Supposedly the explanation for this shameless game playing is that Speaker Pelosi wanted leverage, leverage to reach into the Senate and dictate our trial proceedings to us.”
“Now I’ve made clear from the beginning that no such leverage exists,” McConnell added. “And yesterday we made it clear it will never exist.”
Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, said the impeachment articles were not brought up during today's Democratic caucus meeting.
When asked about the next steps with the articles of impeachment, Dingell said it “wasn’t even discussed today.”
She also became frustrated when asked if the War Powers resolution, which would check the President on Iran, was on the back burner given that it will not be put to a vote this week. Raising her voice, she said, “This is not a political game.”
House Judiciary members, such as Reps. Cicilline and Raskin, say they support Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to hold the impeachment articles until they see the parameters of a Senate trial.
“In order for the Speaker, when she sends the articles of impeachment she also has to send the managers, so I think it’s very important as a former trial lawyer, that the speaker understand and that we understand what those proceedings look like,” Rep. David Cicilline said.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, another Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, defended Pelosi’s position to withhold the articles, but pressed on what he wanted to see from McConnell. He said he wanted to see the Senate Majority Leader's plan in writing.
Raskin said it’s not enough that McConnell has been pretty clear about what the process will look like. He also accused Sen. Lindsey Graham and McConnell of putting too much of a thumb on the process. He also said Democratic senators should not weigh in at this stage on if Trump should be impeached, and he criticized those who have, such as l2020 hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
“All 100 senators need to consider very carefully what their oath is,” Raskin said.
Rep. Jim Himes, a Democrat on House Intelligence committee, said an “indefinite delay” in transmitting the impeachment articles is not being contemplated.
Remember: The House passed two articles of impeachment last month, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to formally transmit them to the Senate. It's not clear when the House could send over the articles.
Himes also said that Iran tensions have put the impeachment issue in the back of most people’s minds, so he didn’t think it would hurt the Democrats’ case that Trump should be removed from office.
Meanwhile, Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs committee, said that subpoenaing Mike Pompeo is a “consideration” if he doesn’t agree to testify next week.
As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walked through the halls of the Capitol last night, he said he was still in the dark over timing of the impeachment articles from the House.
“What do you hear? I haven’t heard,” McConnell told CNN in a brief interview. “I simply don’t know when they are coming over.”
The House passed two articles of impeachment last month, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to formally transmit them to the Senate. Once the Senate has the articles, it will hold a trial and determine whether Trump should be removed from office.
The House passed two articles of impeachment against President Trump last month, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to send them to the Senate.
Here are the latest developments in President Trump's impeachment:
- McConnell moves ahead with plans: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed yesterday that he has the votes to move forward with an impeachment trial without an initial agreement on witnesses with Senate Democrats. Democrats want a deal up front to hear from witnesses and get documents, but McConnell says those matters should be dealt with later after opening statements.
- Pelosi returns to Capitol Hill: All eyes are on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who still has the two articles of impeachment. The Senate can not begin the impeachment trial until the House, led by Pelosi, sends the articles over. Pelosi is not telling anyone yet about her plans to send over the articles to the Senate — not even her closest allies, not even Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, according to multiple sources.
- The White House reaction to John Bolton's announcement: The former national security adviser's announcement Monday that he would be willing to testify if the Senate subpoenaed him sent top White House aides scrambling, multiple people tell CNN. Aides involved in the President's impeachment strategy then convened a meeting to decide how to handle the situation, asking each other what Bolton's tactic could be. They decided against issuing a statement on the matter, and urged the President not to comment as well, though they recognize that's not something within their control.
- Trump on Bolton: Trump reacted for the first time yesterday to the Bolton news, telling reporters Bolton “would know nothing about what we’re talking about," despite the fact that Bolton was his adviser at the time and has first hand knowledge of the hold on Ukrainian aid.