Can Nancy Pelosi Really Not Send the Impeachment Articles to the Senate?

3 mins read
President Donald J. Trump meets with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressional leadership Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead) [Public Domain]

In a word, yes.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted on the two articles of impeachment against President Trump. They both passed, and now Trump is the third president in our nation’s history to have been impeached. Here are the final vote tallies, courtesy of the New York Times:

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Now that President Trump has been impeached, the next step is that the Senate will conduct a trial to determine whether or not he’ll be convicted. But an alternate idea started to float around social media a week ago: What if the House hangs on to the articles of impeachment and doesn’t send them over to the Senate?

There could be some advantages to this. The Democrats need 20 Republicans to vote with them to convict Trump, and judging from what we’ve seen of the Republicans recently that does seem rather unlikely (although nothing is a done deal). But if the trial never happens, then Trump never gets formally acquitted.

Several reporters covering the impeachment last night heard from senior Democratic aides that the House might hang on to the articles. Nancy Pelosi made a clear statement that she’d like to ensure that the Senate conducts a fair trial. It’s possible that she could force Mitch McConnell’s hand by not sending over the articles until some agreements about how the trial will be structured are solidified in the Senate.

Which brings us to how. How exactly can Pelosi “hang on” to the articles? What gives her the power to dictate the timetable?

Here’s the answer:

Though the House adopted two articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of congressional investigations, it must pass a second resolution formally naming impeachment managers to present the case in the Senate. That second vehicle triggers the official transmission of articles to the Senate.

Politico

What Pelosi can do is delay a vote on the second resolution to name impeachment managers (the folks who will essentially try the case in the Senate) for however long she wants. She has control right now. Particularly considering that McConnell has said he is fully coordinating with the White House (um, since when are jurors allowed to coordinate with the lawyers for the defense?) and he won’t even consider allowing witnesses to speak at the trial, I’m glad to know that the House doesn’t have to relinquish the process completely to the Senate.

To wrap up, here’s the historic moment when Pelosi gavelled in the impeachment vote:

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Originally posted on Political Charge. Re-posted with permission.


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