WASHINGTON – The speaker of the United States House of Representatives said on Friday that chamber will send articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate next week.
“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,” Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a letter to her fellow Democrats in the House.
Trump and other Republicans have slammed Pelosi’s decision to withhold the articles of impeachment, and her approach has even sparked mild criticism from within the Democrats’ ranks.
The House on Dec. 18 voted to impeach Trump on two accusations: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The abuse of power charge stems from an allegation that during a phone call last July Trump sought personal political gain by improperly pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce a corruption investigation into US former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and his son Hunter.
Trump has denied that he threatened to withhold foreign aid to that country unless it announced the probe and says his call with Zelensky was “perfect.”
Representatives also approved a charge that Trump obstructed the House impeachment inquiry by blocking officials from testifying and preventing the sharing of documents with Congress.
Under the Constitution, the approval of articles of impeachment in the House is to be followed by a trial in the Senate, where it takes a two-thirds majority to remove the president from office.
Trump’s fellow Republicans hold 53 of the 100 seats in the upper chamber, making a conviction in the Senate highly unlikely.
No date has yet been set for the trial and it cannot begin until the lower house names impeachment managers – members of the House who will effectively serve as prosecutors in those proceedings.
The next step after the appointment of the managers will be for Pelosi to formally transmit the articles of impeachment.
The House speaker has delayed sending over the charges under the argument that she first needs to know what rules will govern the trial.
Democrats say a fair trial can only be assured if the senators, who will act as jury in the impeachment case, hear from witnesses who did not testify during the proceedings in the House.
One such individual is Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, who on Monday said he is ready and willing to testify in the impeachment trial if he receives a subpoena from the Senate.
Witnesses in the impeachment inquiry in the House told representatives that Bolton had expressed serious concerns about alleged pressure put on Ukraine by the Trump administration.
“The American people have clearly expressed their view that we should have a fair trial with witnesses and documents, with more than 70 percent of the public stating that the president should allow his top aides to testify.”
During the impeachment investigation in the House, the White House instructed key current and former administration officials not to cooperate with the inquiry.
In that regard, Pelosi said in her letter that “clearly, (Senate Majority) Leader McConnell does not want to present witnesses and documents to senators and the American people so they can make an independent judgment about the president’s actions.”
Since the approval of the impeachment articles, McConnell has proposed a procedure modeled on the one the Senate followed in 1998 during the impeachment of Democratic President Bill Clinton.
On that occasion, senators listened to presentations from the prosecution and the defense before holding a vote on whether to call witnesses.
Trump is only the third US president to be impeached.
Both Andrew Johnson – in 1868 – and Clinton were acquitted in the Senate, while Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before the lower house could vote on his impeachment.