House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday that she will take steps next week to send impeachment articles to the Senate, after delaying the process since last month in a bid to extract favorable terms for a trial.
“I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the Floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate. I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further,” Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to colleagues.
The decision to release the articles came as fellow Democrats in recent days had started to voice frustration and impatience with the speaker's approach. They stressed the urgency with which impeachment was treated at the end of 2019 and questioned why the House would then delay a trial by using articles as leverage.
Asked about Pelosi's decision to move forward on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said: “About time.”
Pelosi nevertheless defended her approach in the memo, stressing important new information on the Ukraine controversy at the heart of impeachment that emerged during the interim.
“I am very proud of the courage and patriotism exhibited by our House Democratic Caucus as we support and defend the Constitution,” she wrote. She continued to press the Senate, as she has for weeks, to conduct a "fair trial" with witnesses and documents.
“In an impeachment trial, every Senator takes an oath to ‘do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws.’ Every Senator now faces a choice: to be loyal to the President or to the Constitution,” she wrote. “No one is above the law, not even the President.”
Pelosi’s demands in recent days included calling on McConnell to reveal the resolution that would set the terms for the trial before she would transmit the articles.
Pelosi and her allies seemingly wanted a commitment to call certain Democrat-sought witnesses, and at least learn more about McConnell’s plans. But McConnell wouldn't budge, insisting that the Senate first launch the trial, and then resolve issues surrounding witnesses later, declaring that he would not haggle with Pelosi and accusing her Thursday of playing “irresponsible games.”
While Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had largely backed Pelosi in calling for commitments from McConnell, other Democratic senators began this week to pressure the House to get moving.
“I think it’s time to turn the articles over,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Wednesday on Fox News' "America's Newsroom." “Let’s see where the Senate can take it.”
Even Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called out Pelosi for the delay.
“The longer it goes on, the less urgent it becomes,” Feinstein told Politico. “So if it’s serious and urgent, send them over. If it isn’t, don’t send it over.”
Sens. Angus King, D-Maine; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; and Chris Coons, D-Del., also came out this week calling for the process to move along.
“I respect the fact that she is concerned about the fact about whether or not there will be a fair trial,” Coons told Politico this week. “But I do think it is time to get on with it.”
McConnell has repeatedly said the resolution to govern the impeachment trial in the Senate would mirror the one used for then-President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999 -- setting a timeframe for the trial to begin, with the opportunity for lawmakers to determine how to proceed on potential witness testimony and additional documents later, after both the defense and the prosecution make their opening statements.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Friday, though, voiced hope that Republicans would hold a trial that would feature witnesses should prosecutors, and counsel for the president, request them.
“I have had many discussions with some of my Republican colleagues on how we can adhere as closely as practical to the precedent for conducting the impeachment trial of President Clinton, which included as a third stage the decision on whether to call witnesses," Collins said Friday. "I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement on how to proceed with the trial that will allow the opportunity for witnesses for both the House managers and the President’s counsel if they choose to do so.”
She added: "It is important that both sides be treated fairly.”
McConnell said earlier this week he has the votes needed to pass the resolution and begin the trial, once he receives the articles. In impeachment, most resolutions can pass with a simple majority — 51 votes. To remove the president from office, though, there must be 67 votes.
After Pelosi's announcement Friday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, blasted the speaker for the delay.
"Speaker Pelosi threw the United States Congress into unnecessary chaos with this pointless delay," Grassley said in a statement. "From the beginning, it's been unclear what the goal of this hurry-up-and-wait tactic was or what the country stood to gain. We now know the answer was nothing."
"We've had three weeks of uncertainty and confusion, causing even more division," he added. "Regardless, I will take my role as a juror seriously and review the evidence presented by both sides before making any determination."
Meanwhile, the next step for Pelosi will be to determine who will serve as House managers to prosecute the case against the president in the Senate trial.
Last month, bipartisan sources told Fox News that several names have been floated to make the case for the president’s removal.
Likely candidates include Nadler, D-N.Y., whose panel drafted the articles of impeachment (abuse of power and obstruction of Congress); House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who led much of the impeachment inquiry out of his committee with dramatic hearings to develop the case against the president; House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.; and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a constitutional lawyer.
Other possible candidates include Democrats who were more outspoken during the impeachment hearings, like Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.
Sources told Fox News that other names being floated include Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Val Demings, D-Fla., who served as the first female police chief in Orlando; and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who was involved in the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton and was a staffer during the congressional investigation into former President Richard Nixon.
During Clinton’s impeachment in 1999, there were 13 House impeachment managers. A source familiar with the planning told Fox News that Pelosi is expected to appoint fewer than that.
Fox News' Mike Emanuel and Jason Donner contributed to this report.