House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday reiterated her position that the House will not select impeachment managers until the Senate ensures the chamber will conduct a fair trial. Impeachment managers essentially act as prosecutors, arguing the House’s case against President Donald Trump before the Senate.
“The House cannot choose our impeachment managers until we know what sort of trial the Senate will conduct,” Pelosi wrote before chiding Trump for refusing to cooperate with impeachment investigators. “President Trump blocked his own witnesses and documents from the House, and from the American people, on phony complaints about the House process. What is his excuse now?”
The House cannot choose our impeachment managers until we know what sort of trial the Senate will conduct.
President Trump blocked his own witnesses and documents from the House, and from the American people, on phony complaints about the House process. What is his excuse now?
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) December 23, 2019
The maneuver was a response to GOP leadership saying publicly they had already drawn conclusions on the president’s innocence and planned to closely coordinate with the White House on the proceedings.
Speaking about the trial from the Senate floor last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said there would be “no difference between the president’s position and our position,” while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he’d “written off the whole process” of impeachment as a “bunch of B.S.” more than a month ago.
The audacious strategy to strengthen Democrats’ bargaining position was proposed in an op-ed by Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, who noted that it would play to “McConnell’s and Trump’s urgent desire to get this whole business behind them.”
What happens if McConnell never agrees to a real trial with witnesses and documents and Schumer doesn’t cave? Then Trump will have been found guilty by the House of conduct “grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law,” with NO exoneration. He won’t love that.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) December 16, 2019
Attorney and impeachment expert Ross Garber countered that the Constitution empowers the Senate to simply set a deadline for the trial to start regardless of the House’s failure to elect managers or deliver the articles.
Wouldn’t make sense.
Constitution doesn’t mention transmission. And Supreme Court has said Senate has sole power to set trial rules. Senate could set a deadline for trial regardless. Or not. Senate and Trump probably don’t care. Either way, not a good look for the House Ds. https://t.co/jMHb0wW869
— Ross Garber (@rossgarber) December 18, 2019
Others, such as George Washington Law School Professor Randall Eliason, believe the whole ordeal has been blown entirely out of proportion.
Really tired of all the faux outrage about transmitting the articles of impeachment. It’s been less than a week, and with the holidays Senate would not be doing anything now anyway. Of course House will send them eventually. Seems like a classic DC tempest in a teapot.
— Randall Eliason (@RDEliason) December 23, 2019
But while withholding the articles of impeachment may not ultimately provide House Democrats with much negotiating leverage, the move has managed to garner widespread media attention and appears to have, at the very least, gotten under the skin of one notorious cable news viewer in the White House.
The tactic has provoked several acerbic tweets from the president. He’s called Pelosi “crazy” for trying to “dictate terms of impeachment” and accused her of engaging in a “quid pro quo” with the Senate.
“Pelosi gives us the most unfair trial in the history of the U.S. Congress, and now she is crying for fairness in the Senate, and breaking all rules while doing so. She lost Congress once, she will do it again!,” Trump shot back minutes after Pelosi’s tweet on Monday morning.
Pelosi gives us the most unfair trial in the history of the U.S. Congress, and now she is crying for fairness in the Senate, and breaking all rules while doing so. She lost Congress once, she will do it again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2019
[image via YouTube screengrab]