WASHINGTON (CN) – After the House on Wednesday night voted to make President Donald Trump the third president ever impeached, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi would not commit to immediately sending the articles of impeachment over to the Senate without knowing what the Senate trial will look like first.
Democrats have objected to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s intentions to coordinate with the White House on how the trial will play out, including whether the Senate will call new witnesses and his comment that he is not an impartial juror in the proceedings.
Democrats have branded the upcoming trial in the Senate as rigged in Trump's favor, leading some on the left to suggest Pelosi hold onto the articles of impeachment instead of sending them over to the Senate immediately.
The idea of holding up the articles gained prominence earlier this week when Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe penned an opinion piece in the Washington Post arguing Democrats should use the tactic as a bargaining chip to get concessions from McConnell on how the Senate trial will proceed.
In a separate piece on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported some Democrats had shopped the idea around to others within the party and that it had been met with some interest.
When asked directly whether she could guarantee the articles would go over to the Senate, Pelosi dodged and on multiple occasions declined to directly say when and even if the House would send the articles over.
She said House leadership awaits McConnell's decision on how the trial will proceed on the other side of the Capitol.
"That would have been our intention, but we'll see what happens over there," Pelosi told reporters at a Wednesday night press conference, when asked to guarantee the articles would eventually go to the Senate.
However, Pelosi downplayed how much the idea has been a part of her leadership team's conversations.
"You're asking me are we all going to go out and play in the snow, that has not been part of our conversation" Pelosi said.
Earlier this week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters it is possible the articles do not immediately make their way over to the Senate but said there are many considerations that go into the timing of the articles’ transmission.
"It's an interesting proposal, but I don't think that's the path we'll follow," Hoyer said. "But that does not mean we'll immediately deliver. There are other considerations relating to other legislation. As I understand the rules of the Senate, once they receive the articles, they have to act. They have to go into trial, can't do any other work. That will play into that consideration."
As an opening salvo in the battle over how the impeachment trial will play out in the Senate, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over the weekend demanded McConnell commit to calling several current and former Trump administration officials to testify, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton.
McConnell has sloughed off that suggestion and said he will meet with Schumer in the near future to hammer out an agreement over the trial procedure. On Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican said he would hope to reach an agreement on broad procedural issues and leave the question of whether to call witnesses until later on in the trial.