House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler at Wednesday night’s press conference. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)
(CNSNews.com) – Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated on Wednesday night she would not send the articles of impeachment passed by the House to the U.S. Senate until that chamber announces a process for a trial of President Trump that is “fair.”
What she would not consider a fair trial, she said, would be one in which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell coordinates with the White House counsel’s office – as he has pledged to do.
“We have legislation approved by the Rules Committee that will enable us to decide how we will send over the articles of impeachment,” she told reporters at the U.S. Capitol after the vote.
“We cannot name [impeachment] managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side, and I would hope that that will be soon, as we did with our legislation – our Resolution 660 – to describe what the process would be.”
“So far, we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us, so hopefully it will be fair, and when we see what that is, we’ll send our managers.”
Pelosi contended that the impeachment in the House was “a very fair process.”
Her comments set off a flurry of questions, as reporters sought clarity on whether the delay on sending the articles to the upper chamber could be indefinite.
“So you would withhold – you would wait to send the articles until you understand what the Senate’s going to do?” a reporter asked.
“We’ll make a decision as a group, as we always have, as we go along,” she said, gesturing to committee chairmen flanking her, including Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)
Asked whether she could withhold the articles “for weeks” she said the House Democratic leadership would “decide what that dynamic is, but we hope that the resolution of that process will be soon in the Senate.”
Pressed on the issue, Pelosi denied having raised the prospect of not sending the article to the Senate at all.
“I said we are not sending it [the articles] tonight because it is difficult to determine who the managers would be until we see the arena in which we will be participating,” she said.
Asked what she would view as a fair trial in the Senate, Pelosi replied, “Let me tell you what I don’t consider a fair trial.”
“This is what I don’t consider a fair trial,” she said – apparently reading from a transcript of comments McConnell made to Fox News’ Sean Hannity last week – “that Leader McConnell has stated that he’s not an impartial juror, that he’s going to take his cues, in quotes, from the White House, and that he is working in total coordination with the White House counsel’s office.”
Nadler then stepped in. “Let me just say that, obviously, Senator McConnell by that declaration has said that he is – as in effect the foreman of the jury, is working with the defendant’s counsel. That’s not fair.”
Later Pelosi returned to the subject.
“This is a serious matter, even though the Majority Leader in the United States Senate says it is okay for the foreman of the jury to be in cahoots with the lawyers of the accused,” she said. “That doesn’t sound right to us. Now they will understand what their responsibilities are, and we will see what that is.”
As she ended the press conference, Pelosi praised the “moral courage” of the Democratic caucus, singling out in particular “our freshmen members, who came here, reviewed the facts, understood the Constitution, made their decision, again, to honor their oath of office. We’re very proud of them.”
One of the most high-profile of those freshmen members was Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who on the day she was sworn in last January made waves when she was filmed telling supporters, in reference to Trump, “we’re gonna go in and impeach the motherf****r!”
During Wednesday’s debate, that moment was recalled by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
“Democrats have wanted to impeach President Trump since the day he was elected,” he said.
“In January, where we all stood in this body, we stood up, we raised our hands, we swore that we’d uphold the Constitution. And a few mere hours after that, Congresswoman Tlaib said she was going to impeach the mother-f’er. Those are not my words.”
In March, Tlaib introduced a resolution calling on the House Judiciary Committee to “inquire whether the House of Representatives should impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America.”