Jan 10, 2020 6:07 PM

Pelosi: House will send impeachment to Senate next week

Posted Jan 10, 2020 6:07 PM
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the media Thursday photo courtesy Rep. Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the media Thursday photo courtesy Rep. Pelosi

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday the House will take steps next week to send articles of impeachment to the Senate for President Donald Trump's Senate trial.

In a letter to her Democratic colleagues, Pelosi said she has asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler to be prepared to bring to the floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

“I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further,” Pelosi wrote.

Pelosi has held on to the articles in a standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The protracted showdown has scrambled the politics of impeachment and the congressional calendar three weeks after the House Democrats impeached Trump on charges of abuse and obstruction over his actions toward Ukraine.

Transmittal of the documents and naming of House impeachment managers are the next steps needed to start the Senate trial. Pelosi indicated she may be communicating to her colleagues, as she often does with a letter on her thinking.

McConnell wants to launch a speedy trial without new witnesses but Pelosi is warning against a rush to acquit the president.

Trump mocked Pelosi with his tweets Friday and derided her and other Democrats late Thursday in Toledo, his first rally of 2020.

Pelosi, D-Calif., faces mounting pressure to act. Republicans say Democrats are embarrassed by their vote. But Pelosi countered that Democrats are ‘’proud'' of upholding the Constitution and said she doubted that Senate Republicans will do the same.

Many on Capitol Hill expect the Senate impeachment trial to begin next week.

“I’ll send them over when I’m ready. That will probably be soon,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol Thursday, noting she is not postponing it "indefinitely.''

The House impeached Trump in December on the charge that he abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine's new leader to investigate Democrats, using as leverage $400 million in military assistance for the U.S. ally as it counters Russia at its border. Trump insists he did nothing wrong, but his defiance of the House Democrats' investigation led to an additional charge of obstruction of Congress.

Pelosi's delay in sending the articles of impeachment over for a Senate trial has led to a standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., over what would be the third impeachment trial in the nation's history.

McConnell said that if Pelosi and House Democrats are "too embarrassed'' to send the articles of impeachment, the Senate will simply move on next week to other business.

“They do not get to trap our entire country into an unending groundhog day of impeachment without resolution,” McConnell said.

McConnell told GOP senators at a lunchtime meeting to expect the trial next week, according to two people familiar with his remarks. The people requested anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

At the same time, McConnell signed on to a resolution from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., to allow for the dismissal of articles of impeachment if the House doesn't transmit them in 25 days. That change to Senate rules appears unlikely to happen before Pelosi transmits the articles.

In the weeks since Trump was impeached, Democrats have focused on new evidence about Trump's effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals and they pushed the Senate to consider new testimony, including from former White House national security adviser John Bolton. Republicans are just as focused on a speedy trial with acquittal.

Republicans have the leverage, with a slim 53-47 Senate majority, as McConnell rebuffs the Democratic demands for testimony and documents. But Democrats are using the delay to sow public doubt about the fairness of the process as they try to peel off wavering GOP senators for the upcoming votes. It takes just 51 senators to set the rules.

“When we say fair trial, we mean facts, we mean witnesses, we mean documents,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., promising votes ahead. “Every single one of us, in this Senate, will have to have to take a stand. How do my Republican friends want the American people, their constituents, and history to remember them?”

Trump weighed in from the White House suggesting that he, too, would like more witnesses at trial. They include former Vice President Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination now, and his son Hunter, as well as the government whistleblower whose complaint about the president's pressure on Ukraine sparked the impeachment investigation.

On a July telephone call with Ukraine's new president, Trump asked his counterpart to open an investigation into the Bidens while holding up military aid for Ukraine. A Ukrainian gas company had hired Hunter Biden when his father was vice president and the Obama administration's point man on Ukraine. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

Trump suggested that his administration would continue to block Bolton or others from the administration from appearing before senators. Many of those officials have defied congressional subpoenas for their testimony.

“When we start allowing national security advisers to just go up and say whatever they want to say, we can’t do that,” Trump said during an event with building contractors. “So we have to protect presidential privilege for me, but for future presidents. That’s very important."

Bolton, one of four witnesses that Democrats have requested, said this week that he would testify if subpoenaed.

McConnell has said from the start he is looking to model Trump's trial on the last time the Senate convened as the court of impeachment, for President Bill Clinton in 1999. McConnell has said there will be “no haggling” with House Democrats over Senate procedures.

“There will be no unfair, new rule rule-book written solely for President Trump,” McConnell said Thursday.

McConnell, who met with Trump late Wednesday at the White House, suggested last month it would be "fine with me" if the House never sent the articles. More recently, he has drawn on the Constitution's intent for the Senate to have the ultimate say on matters of impeachment. He scoffed that Pelosi has ‘'managed to do the impossible" by uniting Democrats and Republicans who want the trial to begin.

Some Democrats have been showing increased anxiety over the delay as Americans remain divided over Trump's impeachment.

The delay on impeachment has also upended the political calendar, with the weekslong trial now expected to bump into presidential nominating contests, which begin in early February. Several Democratic senators are running for the party's nomination .

One 2020 hopeful, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., told The Associated Press's Ground Game podcast that a looming impeachment trial and other pressing issues in Washington could deal a “big, big blow” to his presidential campaign by keeping him away from Iowa in the final weeks before the Feb. 3 caucuses.

As Pelosi dashed into a morning meeting at the Capitol, she was asked if she had any concerns about losing support from Democrats for her strategy. She told reporters: “No.”

"I know exactly when” to send the impeachment articles over, Pelosi said. "I won't be telling you right now.''

Pelosi is seeking what she says she wanted from the start — “to see the arena” and “terms of the engagement” that McConnell will use for the trial — before sending her House managers to present the articles of impeachment in the Senate. She has yet to choose the managers, a source of political intrigue as many lawmakers want the high-profile job.

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Jan 10, 2020 6:07 PM
With Pompeo out, GOP can't dodge Kansas Senate race headache
Photo courtesy  Kris Kobach campaign

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s declaration Tuesday that he won’t run for Senate in Kansas returned some Republicans to worrying that they can’t block a polarizing conservative from winning the GOP nomination and putting the seat in play.

Pompeo’s decision to remain as the nation’s top diplomat, assuming he sticks by it, means the GOP can’t dodge the issue that had prompted top Republicans to woo Pompeo for months. They saw Pompeo as the best bet for torpedoing hard-right immigration policy advocate Kris Kobach’s bid for the Senate.

The turmoil in the Middle East that preceded Pompeo’s decision could help Kobach with hawkish GOP primary voters. Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, has spent two decades building a national profile partly by framing illegal immigration as a national security issue and touting his work with the U.S. Justice Department right after the 9/11 terror attacks.

Some anti-Kobach Republicans focused quickly on the race’s best-funded candidate so far, GOP Rep. Roger Marshall of western Kansas. But he still faced skepticism about his conservative bona fides and whether he can stop Kobach, particularly absent a one-on-one match.

“Everybody but Kobach probably should get together and say, ‘Now why are we doing this and what are we trying to gain?’ And pick somebody and go head-to-head,” said Tim Shallenburger, a former Kansas Republican Party chairman and state treasurer.

Pompeo’s decision complicates GOP efforts to defend their 53-47 Senate majority in November’s elections. The national party and its allies face the prospect of having to put resources into Kansas, even though Republicans haven’t lost a Senate race there since 1932.

Pompeo has said repeatedly that he’d remain secretary of state as long as President Donald Trump will keep him. But his travels to Kansas last year — and comments from Trump — kept buzz about a potential candidacy alive.

He told reporters Tuesday: “I said the same thing yesterday that I’ve said for months. No.”

Fears that a Kobach nomination could put the seat in play arose even as four-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, now 83, announced a year ago that he wouldn’t seek re-election. Kobach lost the Kansas governor’s race in 2018 to Democrat Laura Kelly — a contest many in the GOP thought winnable.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee questioned Kobach’s ability to win a general election when he announced his candidacy last summer.

And Scott Reed, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s chief political strategist, who ran Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign, said, “We continue to think Kobach is a loser.”

Some Republicans want to winnow the field by urging candidates at the back of the field to drop out. Kelly Arnold, another former state GOP chairman, said if candidates can’t conduct effective fundraising, “it’s time for them to get out.”

Kobach said Tuesday that his independence bothers the Republican establishment — including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — and led it to woo Pompeo. His supporters argue that with Trump on the ballot in November, fears of losing the Kansas seat are misplaced.

“We’re seeing a race where conservatives are lining up behind me,” Kobach said.

Kobach also believes his background is an asset with tensions high in the Middle East. At the Justice Department, he helped develop a system that forced more than 80,000 foreign residents to register with the U.S. government so that it could know why they were there for security reasons. Widely derided by civil rights groups, it was abandoned in 2011 by President Barack Obama’s administration.

Photo courtesy Congressman Dr. Roger Marshall

Marshall spokesman Eric Pahls said the congressman’s seven years in the Army Reserve are more crucial.

“Kansans want to know there’s someone with military experience helping to make these decisions,” he said.

But Bob Beatty, a Washburn University of Topeka political scientist, said Kobach has built a reputation among Republicans as “someone who doesn’t back down.”

“A foreign policy crisis is going to bring out more conservative voters,” Beatty said.

The leading Democratic candidate is state Sen. Barbara Bollier, a retired Kansas City-area anesthesiologist who made national headlines by switching from the GOP at the end of 2018. She has endorsements from Kelly and former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a former two-term Democratic governor, and she already is pursuing moderate voters.

Bollier’s campaign announced Tuesday that she’s raised more than $1 million over the past three months — a sizable amount in a low-cost media state like Kansas.

But Marshall began his race with a sizeable balance from his House campaign and entered the final three months of 2019 with nearly $1.9 million in cash. That was twice as much as the combined total of his main GOP rivals, Kobach, Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle and Dave Lindstrom, a Kansas City-area businessman and ex-Kansas City Chiefs professional football player.

The U.S. Chamber helped Marshall win his congressional seat in 2016 by defeating tea party firebrand Rep. Tim Huelskamp. Reed said they’re considering helping him in the Senate race and the “onus is on him” to show he can win the nomination.

Marshall launched his first television ad before Christmas, describing himself as a foe to “Trump haters and their phony impeachment.”

Yet Marshall is hasn’t yet convinced some Republicans. Shallenburger sees his pro-Trump statements as “pandering” and says his ouster of Huelskamp has him perceived as a moderate, despite a conservative voting record.

Kobach is better known and, to some conservatives, just more exciting. University of Kansas political scientist Patrick Miller said Kobach excels “at the theater” of politics, while Marshall seems “vanilla.”

“If central casting called for a generic Republican congressman, that could be Roger Marshall, right?” Miller said. “Someone to just, like, be in the background of the movie shot.”