Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday defended her decision to temporarily delay the Senate’s impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, despite securing no promises from GOP leaders to allow witness testimony.
“What we think we accomplished in the past few weeks is that we wanted the public to see the need for witnesses,” Pelosi said on ABC News’ “This Week,” marking her first public comments since ending the lengthy standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday.
“Now the ball is in their court to either do that or pay the price,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi’s remarks on Sunday came days before the House is expected to formally hand off articles of impeachment to McConnell, launching a weeks-long spectacle in the Senate that will almost certainly result in Trump’s acquittal.
The California Democrat once again hedged on questions of timing, declining to say when House Democrat would take next steps to name their team of “managers” who will prosecute Trump in the trial.
“What I did say is that I would be consulting with my members this week,” Pelosi said, referring to a caucus-wide meeting on Tuesday morning. “We’ll determine in our meeting when we’ll send them over.”
If the House sends its slate of impeachment managers to the Senate on Tuesday, it would trigger the trial the following day, once again catapulting Trump’s conduct in Ukraine to the national stage. This time, it will happen just as Democratic presidential contenders, including several sitting members of the Senate, make their final push ahead of the Iowa caucuses.
Top Democrats had waged a three-week pressure campaign against McConnell to allow new testimony from first-hand witnesses on Trump’s withholding of military aid in Ukraine. That includes former national security adviser John Bolton, who had refused to testify in the House trial but said recently he would be willing to appear before the Senate.
Pelosi’s delay tactic was also intended to ramp up pressure on potential GOP swing votes: Democrats would need four Senate Republicans to call for witnesses to force McConnell’s hand on the floor.