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Pelosi’s impeachment delay opens cracks in Democratic caucus

Cracks began to appear Wednesday in congressional Democrats’ support for Nancy Pelosi’s prolonged delay in sending articles of impeachment to the Senate, with several lawmakers saying it’s time for the House speaker to get on with it.

Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., said she voted last month to impeach President Trump over urgent concerns about his conduct and argued that handing the case over to the Senate is the right thing to do.

“I trust the speaker’s judgment, but I voted on these articles when they were presented because I felt that we were at a point where it needed to happen,” said Hayes, a freshman member. “So personally, I’d like them to go forward.”

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Across the Capitol, Senate Democrats began to question whether Pelosi’s delay strategy undermines their argument that Trump’s conduct warrants serious and urgent attention.

“We are reaching a point where the articles of impeachment should be sent,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told reporters Wednesday.

Other senators questioned what kind of leverage Pelosi has over the Senate.

“I respect the fact that she is concerned about the fact about whether or not there will be a fair trial. But I do think it is time to get on with it,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told Politico.

Although House Democrats voted to impeach Trump on Dec. 18, Pelosi declined to promptly send the articles over to the Senate for a trial over concerns that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was coordinating with the White House and tilting the playing field — as Democrats sought assurances that the Senate would call certain witnesses. McConnell, R-Ky., has made no such promises, insisting that the trial begin and lawmakers determine how to proceed on potential testimony later.

Several House Democrats said they are not privy to Pelosi’s strategy that led to this impasse, but they hold out hope that she can still extract concessions to allow witnesses and new evidence in a Senate trial.

“We’re behind the speaker and we think that she will have the best sense of when the Senate will stop their threats of nullifying the whole process,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., said the delay tactic could shake loose a few GOP senators to join Democrats in allowing new evidence and witnesses.

“Certainly, I think the president does want this total absolute exoneration, in all caps, to happen, ASAP. And I think that perhaps, Mitch McConnell or four Republican senators would join with Democrats to call for a fair process,” he said.

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said he supports Pelosi’s decision to hold onto the articles for assurances of a fair Senate trial. With the additional disclosure of documents and former National Security Adviser John Bolton stepping forward as a potential witness, the delay has opened the door for Democrats to bolster their case.

“Additional documents subsequent to the speaker’s decision to hold the articles have come out. That’s a gain in terms of information to the American people,” Jeffries said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff left open the possibility that Bolton could appear before the House if the Senate does not call him.

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While Hayes holds out hope that senators will keep an open mind, she doesn’t think the House should call Bolton back.

“That’s not the way the process works,” Hayes said. “The House has done their part, it moves over to the Senate now.”

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