White House predicts Pelosi will ‘yield’ on impeachment delay
Donald Trump has become only the third president in US history to be formally charged with ‘high crimes and misdemeanours’.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put herself in an untenable position by stalling articles of impeachment against US President Donald Trump, the White House is claiming.
A senior administration official suggested the top Democrat in Congress would soon relent, paving the way for leaders in the Republican-controlled Senate to settle on the shape of a trial likely to result in Mr Trump’s acquittal on charges of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.
An influential senator and key ally of Mr Trump’s predicted that the bid by Ms Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for new witnesses and testimony would come to nothing.
Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said: “She will yield. There’s no way she can hold this position. We think her case is going nowhere.”
The House voted last week to impeach Mr Trump, who became only the third president in US history to be formally charged with “high crimes and misdemeanours”.
Ms Pelosi has declined to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate until Republicans provide details about witnesses and testimony.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Mr Schumer have hit an impasse over the issue, leaving open the possibility of a protracted delay until the articles are delivered.
Mr McConnell appears ready to impose a framework drawn from the 1999 trial of President Bill Clinton, who was acquitted of two articles of impeachment.
That trial featured a 100-0 vote on arrangements that established two weeks of presentations and argument before a partisan tally in which then-minority Republicans called a limited number of witnesses.
(Ms Pelosi) will eventually send the articles because public opinion will crush the Democrats Senator Lindsey Graham
Mr Short called Ms Pelosi’s delay unacceptable, saying she was “trampling” Mr Trump’s rights to “rush this through, and now we’re going to hold it up to demand a longer process in the Senate with more witnesses”.
He added: “If her case is so air-tight … why does she need more witnesses to make her case?”
Mr McConnell has all but promised an easy acquittal of the president.
He appears to have united Republicans behind an approach that would begin the trial with presentations and arguments, lasting perhaps two weeks, before he tried drawing the proceedings to a close.
This has sparked a fight with Ms Pelosi and Mr Schumer, who are demanding trial witnesses who refused to appear during House committee hearings, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton.
A close ally of Mr Trump’s, Senator Lindsey Graham, said Ms Pelosi would fail in her quest “to get Mitch McConnell to bend to her will to shape the trial”.
The leverage is our hope that four Republican senators will stand up, as 20 years ago, we saw in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and say, this is much bigger than our current political squabbles Senator Dick Durbin
Mr Graham is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was a House manager, a role comparable to that of a prosecutor, during the Senate’s impeachment trial of Mr Clinton.
“She’ll eventually send the articles because public opinion will crush the Democrats, he said.
Asked whether he expected witnesses in the Senate, he replied: “No, I don’t.”
The Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, Dick Durbin, said his party was looking for a signal from Mr McConnell that he had not ruled out new witnesses and documents.
But Mr Durbin acknowledged that Democrats may not have much leverage in pushing a deal.
He criticised both Republican and Democratic senators who had already announced how they would vote in the trial, saying the Constitution required senators to act as impartial jurors.
Republicans hold a 53-vote majority in the Senate.
“The leverage is our hope that four Republican senators will stand up, as 20 years ago, we saw in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and say, this is much bigger than our current political squabbles,” Mr Durbin said.
Mr Short spoke on Fox News Sunday, while Mr Durbin appeared on CNN’s State Of The Union and Mr Graham contributed on Fox News Channel’s Sunday Morning Futures.