The morning after the House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against him, President Trump slammed Democrats for a still-evolving plan to “Do Nothing with the Articles,” delaying the start of a trial in the Senate.
“I got Impeached last night without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history,” Trump said Thursday after he became the third sitting president in U.S. history to be impeached. “Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it’s Senate’s call!”
“‘The Senate shall set the time and place of the trial.’ If the Do Nothing Democrats decide, in their great wisdom, not to show up, they would lose by Default!” he added.
Trump’s comments came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, following the historic vote, declined to rule out the idea of delaying the transmittal of the articles of impeachment to the Senate, as leverage in the looming fight over the rules for the trial, which would decide if Trump is removed from office.
Until the Senate takes up the question, Trump will remain in office, but under the cloud of impeachment. Delaying a trial, which otherwise would most likely start right after the New Year, would have unpredictable effects on the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination. Five senators are running, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and their required attendance at the impeachment trial could take them away from the campaign in the crucial run-up to the first primaries.
After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted he had no intention of being “impartial” in the trial, some House Democrats floated the idea of holding back the articles. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has said he wants testimony from current and former administration officials, such as former national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which the White House opposes. Schumer said Tuesday he would force a vote on the Senate floor on calling these witnesses, which could put some of McConnell’s Republican allies in a difficult position.
“So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters after the House impeached Trump. About the timing of the transmittal to the Senate, she said: “We’ll make that decision as a group, as we always have, as we go along.”
“Pelosi feels her phony impeachment HOAX is so pathetic she is afraid to present it to the Senate, which can set a date and put this whole SCAM into default if they refuse to show up! The Do Nothings are so bad for our Country!” Trump said on Twitter.
This was only the third impeachment of a president in U.S. history, so there are few legal precedents governing the way forward. Chief Justice John Roberts would preside over the Senate trial, and House Democrats would appoint impeachment managers to prosecute their case, but McConnell exercises near-total control over what happens in the upper chamber.
While impeachment is a rebuke by the House — a recommendation that the president be removed from office — the Senate decides in a trial whether to actually do so, and Republicans in the Senate — who hold a 53-to-47 majority — are not expected to defect from the president.
A day before the impeachment vote, McConnell, who will essentially serve as the jury foreman, rejected the notion of being impartial during the Senate trial.
“I’m not an impartial juror,” McConnell said. “This is a political process. There is not anything judicial about it. Impeachment is a political decision. ... I’m not impartial about this at all.
“We will have a largely partisan outcome,” he added, referring to the trial.
Trump praised the fact that no Republican House member voted in favor of the articles of impeachment.
“100% Republican Vote,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “The Republicans are united like never before!”
Only two other presidents have been impeached in American history: Andrew Johnson, in 1868, and Bill Clinton, in 1998. Both survived their Senate trials and served out their terms.
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