House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she’s preparing to send the impeachment articles to the Senate next week to start the trial of President Donald Trump.
Pelosi’s letter signals the end of the weeks-long standoff between the House and Senate over the articles after the California Democrat delayed sending the two articles of impeachment the House passed last month to the Senate. At the same time, Democrats pressed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to agree to have witnessed in the trial.
“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,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to her caucus. “I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further.”
Pelosi’s letter means the Senate impeachment trial could begin as soon as next week. The House needs to pass a resolution naming impeachment managers before the articles are formally sent to the Senate, and the Senate will also have to take procedural steps before the trial gets underway.
Republicans believe Trump could be acquitted in the Senate by the time of his February 4 State of the Union address, giving him a significant platform to tout the outcome before a nationally televised audience, according to GOP sources involved in the planning.
The schedule outlined on Friday bolsters that possibility, with Pelosi indicating the articles of impeachment would be delivered to the Senate next week. Republicans are eager to move to acquit the President after opening arguments are completed, even as Democrats demand witnesses and documents. If four Republicans break ranks and vote with all 47 Democrats in the chamber to have witnesses or documents in the trial, however, it could scuttle hopes of congressional Republicans and the White House for a quick trial.
Senators could be sworn for the impeachment trial the day after the House votes to name managers, but the trial itself with arguments on the floor probably won’t start until days after that. That’s because the President’s lawyers and the House managers will have to file their briefs before the trial begins. Operating under the Bill Clinton model, if the House sends the articles next week, trial arguments would likely start the following week.
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