Nancy Pelosi is facing intraparty heat over her unprecedented impeachment tactics.
Several Democratic senators called on the House speaker Wednesday to hand over the articles of impeachment against President Trump so trial proceedings can begin in the upper chamber, suggesting her standoff with Republicans could backfire if it lasts much longer.
Most significantly, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, said Pelosi may be overplaying her hand by holding onto the articles.
“If we’re going to do it, she should send them over,” said Feinstein, who, like Pelosi, represents California. “I don’t see what good delay does.”
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the chamber’s most moderate-leaning Democrat, said Pelosi’s waiting game has already delivered results and that it’s time to let the Senate take over.
“Now that we have John Bolton saying he wants to testify, she’s accomplished something,” Manchin said, referring to the former White House national security adviser who announced earlier this week he’s prepared to testify under subpoena at Trump’s trial.
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy concurred.
“I think the time has passed. She should send the articles over,” Murphy said.
Fellow Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal chimed in: “We are reaching a point where the articles of impeachment should be sent.”
A spokesman for Pelosi did not return a request for comment.
Earlier Wednesday, the speaker said she was still waiting for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to lay out the “terms” of the trial proceedings before she’s willing to hand over the articles charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. She has previously suggested she won’t transmit the articles unless McConnell agrees to a trial plan that includes subpoenas for testimony and records withheld from the House by the Trump administration.
“We can’t do it until we see the arena they’re going into,” Pelosi told reporters.
McConnell maintains he won’t consider questions about new evidence before the trial starts — a format he claims is consistent with President Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial.
“There will be no haggling with the House over Senate procedure,” McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “We will not cede our authority to try this impeachment. The House Democrats’ turn is over. The Senate has made its decision.”
But Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) counter that McConnell’s Clinton comparison is flawed, as all relevant witnesses had already testified by the time that trial began. In Trump’s case, the White House and other agencies refused to present several witnesses for testimony in the House proceedings while blocking the release of numerous relevant documents.
A spokesman for Schumer did not immediately return a request for comment.
On Tuesday, the Senate minority leader strongly signaled he backs Pelosi’s power-move postponement.
"I have great faith in the decision that she will make, but she’s accomplished a great deal already,” Schumer told reporters, referring to Bolton’s newfound willingness to testify as well as the recent release of a cache of emails detailing Trump’s direct involvement in the hold on $391 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine.
The House voted to impeach Trump on Dec. 18, charging he must be removed from office over his multifaceted attempts to pressure Ukraine into announcing dubious investigations into Joe Biden and other Democrats that would benefit the president’s reelection bid.
After the historic vote, Pelosi was supposed to turn over the articles to the Senate and tap so-called House impeachment managers who would effectively serve as prosecutors in the Senate trial. Instead, she held onto the articles and said she would not appoint managers until McConnell gave her an idea of how the trial would play out.
On Tuesday, McConnell announced he has the 51 votes needed to pass a resolution that starts the trial without any commitments for new evidence. However, before the chamber can vote on such a measure, Pelosi must send over the articles.