The impeachment controversy on Capitol Hill intensified this week as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) continued to hold on to the impeachment articles approved by the House of Representatives on December 18 rather than deliver them to the Senate to begin that chamber’s constitutional duty of conducting a trial.
The week began with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) introducing a resolution that would change Senate rules to allow for the dismissal of impeachment articles if they are not delivered to the Senate within 25 calendar days. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) later introduced a different resolution calling on Speaker Pelosi to “immediately” appoint impeachment managers and transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Then Pelosi vaguely hinted that she would deliver the articles “soon” without explaining what that meant. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his caucus on Thursday to expect the trial to get underway next week.
It appears McConnell knew what he was talking about, as Pelosi on Friday informed her colleagues that, “I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the Floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate.”
What caused the Speaker’s change of heart? She doesn’t seem to have gained anything from the delay. McConnell won the faux controversy over the demand for a “fair trial” when he announced he had the votes to use the procedural rules from President Clinton’s impeachment trial, approved unanimously by the Senate in 1999. Maybe that changed Pelosi’s mind. It’s also possible that she was moved by the increasing calls from Senate Democrats for Pelosi to end the delay. Whatever it was, next week should be interesting.
One caveat to next week’s fireworks. The Speaker only promised a House vote on appointing managers and approving the delivery of the articles. Nothing in her statement to fellow Democrats set a date certain for delivery of the articles. Is she leaving herself some wiggle-room in case she wants to extract some sort of last-minute concession from McConnell? We’ll know soon.