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Democratic senators break with Pelosi on withholding articles of impeachment

McConnell says he has votes for trial rules

Washington — Some Senate Democrats are beginning to question the wisdom of the House continuing to withhold the articles of impeachment against President Trump from the Senate and delaying the trial in the upper chamber. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Tuesday that he has the votes to pass an organizing resolution determining the rules of the trial, mirroring the procedures used in the Clinton impeachment trial. The resolution would allow for opening statements from House prosecutors and the president's defense team before the Senate votes on whether to call witnesses or consider new evidence.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will not deliver the articles to the Senate until McConnell publishes the resolution itself. But at least four Democratic senators say the time to proceed with the trial has come.

"We are reaching a point where articles of impeachment should be sent and we should have votes on whether witnesses will be called," Senator Richard Blumenthal told reporters Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, also questioned Pelosi's reasoning.

"If we're going to do it, [Pelosi] should send them over," the California Democrat said, according to Bloomberg News reporter Laura Litvan. "I don't see what good delay does."

Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Joe Manchin of West Virginia told The Washington Post on Tuesday that they were ready for the House to deliver the articles.

"I think the time has passed. She should send the articles over," Murphy told The Post. Manchin agreed, saying: "I think it needs to start. I really do."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, has remained supportive of Pelosi's strategy. In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, McConnell took a shot at Schumer, saying the minority leader needed to "stand up for the Senate."

"The Senate is not a creature of the House. The Democratic leader does not need to continue to be enthralled by the speaker," McConnell said.

The House must vote on a resolution designating the impeachment managers who deliver the articles to the Senate and prosecute the case against the president in order for the Senate to begin the trial. In a letter to her Democratic colleagues on Tuesday evening, Pelosi reiterated she would not support transmitting the articles until seeing the specific rules laid out by the Senate. 

"It is important that [McConnell] immediately publish this resolution, so that, as I have said before, we can see the arena in which we will be participating, appoint managers and transmit the articles to the Senate," Pelosi said.

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