U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House of Representatives will vote Wednesday to send official impeachment charges to the Senate, bringing the start of U.S. President Donald Trump’s historical impeachment trial one step closer to reality.
Pelosi made the announcement in a statement that was released shortly after discussing the impeachment proceedings at a private meeting with House Democrats nearly a month after the Democrat-led House voted to impeach Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.“
The American people will fully understand the Senate’s move to begin the trial without witnesses and documents as a pure political cover-up,” the statement said. ‘(Senate Majority) Leader (Mitch) McConnell and the President are afraid of more facts coming to light. The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial.”
Pelosi said the House would also vote Wednesday to name the impeachment managers.
The impeachment allegations contend Trump abused the office of the presidency by pressing Ukraine to launch an investigation into one of his main 2020 Democratic challengers, former Vice President Joe Biden, and obstructing congressional efforts to investigate his Ukraine-related actions.
Democrats at Tuesday’s closed-door meeting said Pelosi is expected to name House managers for the impeachment case on Wednesday.
Pelosi had delayed sending the articles to the Senate in a futile effort to get Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to agree to hear testimony from key Trump aides who were directly involved with the president as he temporarily withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine while urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open the Biden investigation.
A Wednesday vote would enable the Senate to start the trial as soon as this week. But opening arguments probably won’t be heard until next week at the earliest, as the Senate will likely take several days to complete formalities such as swearing in Chief Justice John Roberts and approving a set of rules.
Trump, only the fourth U.S. president to be targeted with a serious impeachment effort in the country’s 244-year history, has denied any wrongdoing. He has also ridiculed the Democrats’ impeachment effort.
Two other U.S. presidents, Andrew Johnson in the 19th century and Bill Clinton two decades ago, were also impeached by the House but acquitted in Senate trials, while a third U.S. leader, Richard Nixon, resigned in 1974 while facing a certain impeachment in a political corruption scandal.
The Republican-controlled Senate is widely expected to acquit Trump, particularly since no Republicans have expressed support for removing him from office.
A two-thirds vote in the 100-member Senate would be needed to convict Trump to remove him from office. At least 20 Republicans would need to turn against Trump for a conviction, if all 47 Democrats voted against the president. A handful of Republicans have criticized Trump’s Ukraine actions, but none has called for his conviction and removal from office.
Trump released the military aid to Ukraine in September without Zelenskiy opening the investigation of Biden, his son Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian natural gas company and a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election to undermine Trump’s campaign. Republicans say releasing the aid is proof Trump did not engage in a reciprocal quid pro quo deal with Ukraine — the military aid for the Biden investigations.