House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers on Friday that she will consult with them Tuesday as she announced steps to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
The letter suggested that the House could name its managers, who will act as the prosecutors of President Donald Trump for the Senate trial, and transmit the two articles of impeachment against the president as soon as next week. But Pelosi gave no specific indication of exactly when she intends to send the articles to the Senate, a step that is necessary for the trial to begin.
“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,” she wrote. “I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further,” she said.
“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 the Constitution,” she continued.
Asked if she would submit the articles to the Senate next week, Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol on Friday morning, “We’ll see.”
In the letter, Pelosi sharply criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for actions that she said show his partiality toward the president. McConnell has said he has enough Republican votes in the Senate to move forward with his plan for the impeachment trial without the support of Democrats, who have been demanding witness testimony. He has also said that he is working in coordination with the White House counsel in preparation for the trial.
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“For weeks now, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has been engaged in tactics of delay in presenting transparency, disregard for the American people’s interest for a fair trial and dismissal of the facts,” Pelosi said.
“Leader McConnell’s tactics are a clear indication of the fear that he and President Trump have regarding the facts of the president’s violations for which he was impeached,” she added.
When asked at the Capitol about Pelosi saying she could send the articles, McConnell simply responded, “About time.”
A White House official said in response to Pelosi’s announcement that the White House is “prepared for when this takes place in the Senate and is preparing for the president to be vindicated.”
Pelosi’s announcement comes after several Democrats in the House and Senate publicly said this week that she should relent and send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, although some of those Democrats later walked back those statements.
For weeks, Democrats have been calling for the testimony of several top administration officials who they say had direct knowledge of Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, while withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to the country and a White House meeting for its president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The speaker told reporters Thursday that she would send the articles “when I’m ready” and explicitly said she wouldn’t hold them “indefinitely,” but pressure has been building on her from within her own party as well as from Republicans to transmit them.
McConnell added to that pressure when he said Thursday that he supports a resolution offered by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., that would allow for the dismissal of the articles if Pelosi decided not to send them over.
McConnell has said the first phase of the trial would include “arguments from the prosecution, arguments from the defense” and a “period of written questions” submitted by senators of both parties. The majority leader, however, did not say whether Republicans would agree to hearing witness testimony, although he has said he would want the trial to adhere to the precedent set during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999, in which the Senate decided later in the proceedings on whether to call witnesses.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the Senate president pro tempore and Finance Committee chairman, criticized Pelosi in a statement Friday for what he called her “pointless delay,” saying the speaker threw Congress into “unnecessary chaos.”
“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,” he said. “We now know the answer was nothing. We’ve had three needless weeks of uncertainty and confusion, causing even more division.”
The trial will likely put the five Senate Democrats running for the Democratic presidential nomination at a disadvantage in the race, as they will need to be present for the trial to act effectively as jurors. The trial could begin ahead of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, both slated for early next month.
Dartunorro Clark is a political reporter for NBC News.
Alex Moe is a Capitol Hill producer for NBC News covering the House of Representatives.
Rebecca Shabad is a congressional reporter for NBC News, based in Washington.
Julie Tsirkin and Hallie Jackson