WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Democrats will send the articles of impeachment to the Senate today, signaling an end to the nearly month-long standoff between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the shape of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Democrats came to the decision Tuesday in a closed-door meeting in the basement of the Capitol, according to Democratic sources. But Pelosi, D-Calif., had indicated Friday that she was ready to end the showdown. She told lawmakers she asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., to write up a resolution to transmit the articles.
The House will also have to vote to approve the names of the House lawmakers who will serve as “managers” in the Senate trial. They will essentially act as prosecutors to present the case to senators. Those individuals were not named Tuesday.
The movement of the articles from the House to the Senate will allow the upper chamber to begin a trial to determine whether to convict Trump and remove him from office. So far, the 47 Senate Democrats are far short of the 67 votes they would need to convict; no Republican has publicly indicated they might buck their party.
Pelosi had held the articles in hopes of getting more favorable terms for a Senate trial, including a commitment in advance for subpoenas of witnesses and documents. She was hoping to build pressure on McConnell, R-Ky., and his Republican colleagues.
But Senate Republicans refused to back down from their plan to punt any decision on witnesses until after the trial gets underway, leaving Democrats with little leverage.
Last week, McConnell announced that he has enough Republican votes to adopt trial rules that don’t immediately allow witnesses. His plan would call for a decision to be made on whether to subpoena witnesses after opening arguments from House Democrats, acting as prosecutors, and the president’s lawyers. He noted that a similar process was used during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial.
Once it became clear that McConnell wouldn’t budge on witnesses, Pelosi demanded that McConnell first release the text of the rules before she would release the articles. McConnell has not done so.
Democrats grew frustrated with Pelosi’s approach, with several Senate Democrats arguing publicly that there was no further leverage to be had by holding the articles. They indicated that they’d rather get on with the trial.
The House’s vote will set up several days of proceedings between the House and Senate. That includes the movement of the articles across the length of the U.S. Capitol and the swearing in of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the senators. The presentation of the opening arguments would be expected to start a few days later.