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Politics Pelosi defends impeachment delay, warns of Senate ’cover-up’

19:10  12 january  2020
19:10  12 january  2020 Source:   politico.com

Impeachment live updates: McConnell says Pelosi being ‘contemptuous of the American people’ for holding on to articles of impeachment

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday defended her decision to temporarily delay the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, despite securing no promises from GOP leaders to allow witness testimony.

Nancy Pelosi posing for the camera: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said the precise timing of when the two impeachment articles would be sent over has not been determined.© Win McNamee/Getty Images Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said the precise timing of when the two impeachment articles would be sent over has not been determined.

“What we think we accomplished in the past few weeks is that we wanted the public to see the need for witnesses,” Pelosi said on ABC News' “This Week,” marking her first public comments since ending the lengthy standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday.

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“Now the ball is in their court to either do that or pay the price,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi's remarks on Sunday came days before the House is expected to formally hand off articles of impeachment to McConnell, launching a weeks-long spectacle in the Senate that will almost certainly result in Trump's acquittal.

The California Democrat once again hedged on questions of timing, declining to say when House Democrat would take next steps to name their team of “managers” who will prosecute Trump in the trial.

“What I did say is that I would be consulting with my members this week,” Pelosi said, referring to a caucus-wide meeting on Tuesday morning. “We’ll determine in our meeting when we’ll send them over.”

Senate adopts ground rules for impeachment trial, delaying a decision on witnesses until after much of the proceedings

  Senate adopts ground rules for impeachment trial, delaying a decision on witnesses until after much of the proceedings The vote sets the stage for opening arguments by House impeachment managers and President Trump’s legal defense team beginning Wednesday at 1 p.m.That abrupt reversal from Senate leadership began a deeply acrimonious day in the chamber, which dramatically escalated in its final hours when the House managers and the president’s attorneys engaged in language considered so toxic for the staid Senate that Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, admonished both sides.

If the House sends its slate of impeachment managers to the Senate on Tuesday, it would trigger the trial the following day, once again catapulting Trump's conduct in Ukraine to the national stage. This time, it will happen just as Democratic presidential contenders, including several sitting members of the Senate, make their final push ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

Top Democrats had waged a three-week pressure campaign against McConnell to allow new testimony from first-hand witnesses on Trump’s withholding of military aid in Ukraine. That includes former national security adviser John Bolton, who had refused to testify in the House trial but said recently he would be willing to appear before the Senate.

Pelosi's delay tactic was also intended to ramp up pressure on potential GOP swing votes: Democrats would need four Senate Republicans to call for witnesses to force McConnell's hand on the floor.

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The California Democrat announced Friday that she would relent in the three-week impasse, which began Dec. 18 when she refused to formally transmit the articles across the Capitol in a bid for what she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called a fairer process.

McConnell and his GOP allies have argued that the gambit backfired, with some Democrats in both chambers breaking with Pelosi and urging her to let the Senate begin. But the majority of Pelosi's own caucus stood behind her as she argued that McConnell was attempting to block witnesses from testifying to help acquit Trump.

Asked if she had second thoughts about delaying the articles, Pelosi responded: “No, no no, we feel that it has produced a very positive result.”

Pelosi pointed to a spate of new details on Trump’s aid freeze in Ukraine — including unredacted emails that show the Pentagon’s deep anxiety with the move — that have been released since the House’s impeachment vote,

“More importantly,” Pelosi said, “raising the profile of the fact that we need to have witnesses and documentation, and if we don’t, that is a cover-up.”

Trump Lawyer Ken Starr Says There Is 'No Such Thing' as Obstruction of Congress: 'It's Made Up'

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McConnell has said he will base Trump's impeachment trial on the process used by the Senate during former President Bill Clinton’s 1999 trial, in which the prospect of witnesses was considered at the end. But Democrats have pointed out that Republicans controlled both chambers during Clinton's trial, and, therefore, did not need to agree on witness parameters up front.

Democrats have zeroed in on Bolton — who once apparently called Trump's dealings in Ukraine a "drug deal" — as a key witness in the Senate.

House Democrats have not ruled out subpoenaing Bolton themselves, reviving their investigations even as the Senate has begun its trial. But House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) made clear on Sunday that he would prefer the Senate to call in Bolton.

"There’s little sense in bringing Bolton in to the House and not allowing senators to see his testimony," Schiff told CBS's "Face the Nation."

"They should hear from Bolton directly," Schiff said of the Senate.

At least one Senate Republican is still working to secure witnesses behind the scenes. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a pivotal swing vote, took Washington by surprise on Friday when she disclosed that she was working with a "small number" of GOP senators to make sure there is first-hand testimony.

"I don’t expect anything, but I don’t think it’s impossible," Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Col.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "And I hope my Republican colleagues will be open to having witnesses."

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