WASHINGTON (AP) — The House is preparing to vote Wednesday to send the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate to start the trial, several people told The Associated Press.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi was meeting privately this morning at the Capitol with House Democrats about next steps, ending her blockade almost a month after they voted to impeach Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Pelosi suggested the House vote on Wednesday to transmit the charges and name the House managers for the case, according to one Democratic aide unauthorized to discuss the closed-door meeting.
The action will launch the Senate proceeding, the third presidential impeachment trial in American history, amid the start of an election year.
The trial would begin in a matter of days. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is meeting behind closed doors later Tuesday with GOP senators as they negotiate the terms of the trial.
Some Republicans are signaling they would reject the idea of simply voting to dismiss the articles of impeachment against Trump. They are considering whether to allow a vote on such a motion to dismiss and another to subpoena testimony from new witnesses.
Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House last month on charges of abuse of power over pushing Ukraine to investigate past corruption in Ukraine — that House Democrats and many in the national media view as an attempt to undermine Democratic rival Joe Biden — and obstruction of Congress about the House probe.
With the impeachment trial starting in a matter of days, senators are still debating the rules of the proceedings. GOP senators are conferring privately about whether to allow a motion to dismiss the charges against the president or to call additional witnesses for testimony.
Trump said over the weekend he might prefer simply dismissing the charges rather than giving legitimacy to charges from the House, which he considers a “hoax,” but failing that he would prefer to call more than just Democrat witnesses to expose more about why he considers the impeachment a hoax.
McConnell likely does not have the votes needed from his GOP majority to dismiss the charges.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, want the ground rules to include plans to eventually consider voting to call witnesses.
Democrats have been pushing Republicans, who have the majority in the Senate, to consider new testimony, arguing that fresh information has emerged during Pelosi’s monthlong delay in transmitting the charges.
McConnell is drafting an organizing resolution that will outline the steps ahead. Approving it will be among the first votes senators take after they are sworn as jurors by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts for the Court of Impeachment.
McConnell is hesitant to call new witnesses who would prolong the trial. He prefers to model Trump’s trial partly on President Clinton’s.
the process used for then-President Bill Clinton’s trial in 1999.
If witnesses are allowed, some Republicans may also try to subpoena Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who was paid substantial sums as a board member of Burisma, a gas company in Ukraine, while his father was vice president.
It takes just 51 votes during the impeachment trial to approve rules or call witnesses. Just four GOP senators could form a majority with Democrats to insist on new testimony. It also would take only 51 senators to vote to dismiss the charges against Trump.
Most Republicans appear willing to go along with McConnell’s plan to start the trial first then consider witnesses later, rather than upfront, as Democrats want.