House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said on Sunday morning that House Democrats won’t hold onto the articles of impeachment against President Trump “indefinitely,” but he insisted that his party wants assurances that there will be a fair trial before making the next move.
Although Trump was officially impeached by the House of Representatives on December 18, the next phase of the process — his trial in the Senate, after which the legislative body will vote on whether or not to remove him from office — has been in limbo ever since then. Part of that has to do with the extended holiday break, which is due to end when the legislators return to work next week. But another reason for that is that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has refused to transmit the articles to the Senate until she gets assurances that the trial will be fair.
As NBC News reports, the standoff has to do with how Pelosi and House Democrats want the Senate trial to be carried out vs. how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants it conducted. Pelosi wants a full trial, not unlike a criminal trial, in which evidence will be presented and witnesses will be called. McConnell, however, wants the trial to effectively mimic Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment trial, which included a two-resolution process: first, an initial agreement to hear the case and then a later vote on whether to call witnesses.
Speaking on Sunday to CNN’s “State of the Union,” Schiff said that he doesn’t see his party hanging onto the articles of impeachment indefinitely.
“I don’t think that’s at all the desire, motivation here. The desire is to get a commitment from the Senate that they’re going to have a fair trial, fair to the president, yes, but fair to the American people,” he said.
However, Schiff didn’t specify a timeline for when those articles might be transmitted to the Senate.
He went on to accuse McConnell of “working in cahoots with the president.” Indeed, McConnell has already confirmed as much, having told Fox News in December that he would be working in “total coordination” with the Trump White House on the trial.
McConnell, for his part, said on Friday that Nancy Pelosi is trying to “dictate our process,” which he called “obviously a nonstarter.”
Despite McConnell’s desires, at least one Senate Democrat is pushing for a trial that is more along the lines of what Democrats in the House want. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has angled for a single resolution that would set parameters for presenting the case and allow for the calling of four witnesses.