After vote, House Speaker Pelosi stokes impeachment trial uncertainty
WASHINGTON: Minutes after the House impeached President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw uncertainty into the process by refusing to say, repeatedly, when or whether she would send two articles to the Senate for a trial.
Her comments came as a surprise in a news conference late Wednesday that was intended to express Democrats' sombre closing message after voting to impeach Mr Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
She started by praising her fellow Democrats for having "moral courage" and said it was "a great day for the Constitution of the United States of America".
But then she declined to say when she would send the articles to the Republican-led Senate. Until the articles are submitted, the Senate cannot hold the trial that is nearly certain to acquit the president.
Mrs Pelosi said House Democrats could not name impeachment managers - House prosecutors who make the case for Mr Trump's conviction and removal from office - until they know more about how the Senate will conduct a trial.
"We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side," she said. "And I would hope that that will be soon... 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."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected a proposal earlier this week from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to call several witnesses.
'DOESN'T SOUND RIGHT'
Mr McConnell also said that he is coordinating with the White House and declared that "I am not an impartial juror".
Mrs Pelosi said that Mr McConnell "says it is okay for the foreman of the jury to be in cahoots with the lawyers of the accused. That doesn't sound right to us".
Mr Schumer and Mrs Pelosi were scheduled to meet last night, according to a person familiar with the planning.
Asked again if she could guarantee that she would send the articles to the Senate, Mrs Pelosi said at the news conference: "That would have been our intention."
But they will see what the Senate decides, she said.
"We are not having that discussion. We have done what we set out to do," Mrs Pelosi said. - AP