Fri, Jan 10, 2020 - Page 6 News List

Standoff over the Trump impeachment deepens

‘UNFAIR PROCESS’:A source said Nancy Pelosi wants to know how much time would be devoted to the trial before saying who she would pick to help try the case

AP, WASHINGTON

The standoff over US President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial deepened on Wednesday as US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there would be “no haggling” with Democrats as US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded more details and witnesses.

McConnell’s Senate majority has the leverage Republicans need to launch Trump’s trial, but Pelosi’s reluctance to transmit the articles of impeachment leaves the proceedings at a standstill.

What started as a seemingly minor delay over process and procedures is now a high-stakes showdown between two leaders facing off over the trial.

“There will be no haggling with the House over Senate procedure,” said McConnell, who met later on Wednesday with Trump at the White House.

“We will not cede our authority to try this impeachment. The House Democrats’ turn is over,” he said.

Three weeks have passed since the House impeached Trump on charges of obstruction of Congress and that he abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine’s new leader to investigate Democrats, using as leverage US$400 million in military assistance for the US ally as it counters Russia at its border.

Trump denies any wrongdoing

Even as McConnell spoke from the Senate floor, Pelosi was giving no indication of her willingness to agree to his terms.

In a closed-door meeting with the House Democratic caucus, she spoke instead about the crisis in the Middle East and Iran’s retaliatory ballistic missile attacks on US bases in Iraq, according to several Democrats in the room.

The impeachment timeline is complicating the political calendar, with the trial now expected to last until the presidential primaries begin.

Several Democratic senators are running for the party nomination.

Returning to Washington from the campaign trail, US Senator Elizabeth Warren told reporters that she was confident in Pelosi’s plan.

“I have no doubt that she will get this right,” Warren said. “Some things are more important than politics and the impeachment of a president is certainly one of those. No one is above the law, not even the president.”

Another presidential hopeful, US Senator Cory Booker, said: “Those articles will come over here for a vote in due time.”

Some Senate Democrats have said the time has come for Pelosi to send the articles so the trial can begin.

The showdown is expected to be resolved this week, lawmakers said.

Pelosi wants McConnell to “immediately” make public the details of his trial proposal, according to a letter to colleagues.

She wants to know how much time will be devoted to the trial and other details about the “arena” before announcing her choice of House managers to try the case in the Senate, according to Democrats familiar with the situation and granted anonymity to discuss it.

“Sadly, Leader McConnell has made clear that his loyalty is to the president and not the [US] constitution,” Pelosi wrote to colleagues on Tuesday.

She said the process he is outlining is “unfair.”

McConnell on Tuesday said that he has support from the majority of senators to start a trial structured like the previous one, against then-US president Bill Clinton in 1999.

“We have the votes,” McConnell told reporters.

McConnell said that Pelosi had an “endless appetite for these cynical games” and said it would be up to senators to decide if they want more testimony.

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