Pelosi sets today’s votes to send impeachment to Senate
The US House is set to vote today to send the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate, and pressure was mounting yesterday on senators to call fresh witnesses for the historic trial.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the next steps after meeting privately with House Democrats at the Capitol, ending her blockade a month after they voted to impeach Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
“The president and the senators will be held accountable,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial.”
The action will launch the Senate proceeding, only the third presidential impeachment trial in American history, coming amid the backdrop of a politically divided nation and an election year.
The Senate is expected to transform into an impeachment court as early as tomorrow. The Constitution calls for the chief justice to preside over senators, who serve as jurors, to swear an oath to deliver “impartial justice’.’
Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House last month on charges of abuse of power over pushing Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden as he withheld aid from the country, and obstructing Congress’ ensuing probe.
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday the chief justice would open the trial this week, but that the significant proceedings would launch next Tuesday after the holiday break. He said all 53 GOP senators are on board with his plan to start the session and consider the issue of witnesses later.
McConnell met behind closed doors yesterday with GOP senators as they negotiate the terms of the trial.
Senate Republicans signalled they would reject the idea of simply voting to dismiss the articles of impeachment against Trump, as the president has suggested. McConnell said he does not have the votes to do that.
“There is little or no sentiment in the Republican conference for a motion to dismiss,” McConnell said. ‘’Our members feel we have an obligation to listen to the arguments.”
In fact, a mounting number of senators say they want to ensure the ground rules include the possibility of calling new witnesses.