US House speaker Nancy Pelosi in Washington, US, December 19 2019. Picture: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST
US House speaker Nancy Pelosi in Washington, US, December 19 2019. Picture: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST

Washington  — US President Donald Trump and his allies taunted House speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday over her unexpected suggestion that she would refrain from sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate until she secured changes in the rules for the trial in that chamber.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor on Thursday that Pelosi and House Democrats “may be too afraid to even transmit their shoddy work product to the Senate” and Trump tweeted that the “Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles.”

Pelosi surprised many House Democrats late on Wednesday moments after the House impeached Trump in two separate votes on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress when she told reporters she was holding off naming House managers for the trial “until we see what the process is in the Senate”.

It’s unclear how serious Pelosi is about withholding the formal notification to the Senate that Trump has been impeached or the naming of Democratic lawmakers who would serve as managers for the House’s impeachment case in the Senate trial.

The House had always planned to wait until after a Senate vote scheduled for Thursday on spending bills before notifying the Senate of impeachment, a step that would force the Senate to drop all other business and take up an impeachment trial. Late on Wednesday, Pelosi suggested that she was at least contemplating a delay.

“This is a serious matter, even though the majority leader in the US Senate says it’s OK for the foreman of the jury to be in cahoots with the lawyers of the accused,” Pelosi said. “That doesn’t sound right to us. So far we haven’t seen anything that looks fair to us. Hopefully it will be fairer.”

The idea of a delay surfaced from rank-and-file Democrats on Wednesday, who began discussing it with Democratic leaders as the day went on.

“At this point her decision to withhold sending them over is meritorious,” Democratic representative Jackie Speier said on Thursday. “I think this gives the House leverage to make sure this isn’t a kangaroo court.”

Pelosi is scheduled to address reporters later on Thursday and is set to meet with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer as well.

On Thursday, McConnell called the House impeachment process rushed and shoddy. “If the speaker ever gets her house in order, that mess will be dumped in the Senate’s lap. If the nation accepts this, presidential impeachments may cease being a once-in-a-generation event.”

Bloomberg