Washington, DC — The day after the United States House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump played out much like the day before: with partisan jabs, name-calling and fighting over next steps.
Trump was impeached on Wednesday for obstruction of Congress and abuse of power related to his dealings with Ukraine.
The votes came down largely along party lines with only two Democrats voting against the abuse of power article, and three Democrats against obstruction of Congress charge. All Republicans who were present voted against the impeachment articles, and the one Independent in the House voted in favour.
Wednesday’s votes followed six hours of heated debate over the articles with Democrats trying to lay out their case, and Republicans attacking the process itself.
The votes set up a likely trial in the Senate, but when a trial would take place and what it would look like remains a major point of contention between the parties.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added to that contention on Wednesday night when she evaded questions on when she plans to send the articles to the Senate, which must happen before any trial can occur.
“It would have been our intention” to send the articles immediately, but “we’ll see what happens over there,” Pelosi said, referring to the Senate.
On Thursday morning, she again reiterated that Democrats were waiting to “see the process that is set forth in the Senate” before naming House managers who would act as prosecutors in the trial. She did not say, however, if, or when, she planned to send the articles to the Senate.
More than two dozen Democrats have urged Pelosi to withhold the articles until trial plans acceptable to the Democrats were agreed upon.
Trump, however, railed against any delay.
“I got Impeached last night without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history,” the president tweeted. “Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it’s Senate’s call!”
When asked about the Republicans assertion that Democrats were playing games with the articles of impeachment, Pelosi shot back: “Frankly, I don’t care what the Republicans think.”
On the Senate side, the top Republican and Democrat gave duelling speeches on the chamber’s floor.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Pelosi of being too scared to send the House’s “shoddy work product to the Senate”.
He called the Democratic-led House proceedings “the most rushed, least thorough, and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history”.
“Moments like this are why the United States Senate exists,” he said.
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pushed back.
“Leader McConnell claimed that the impeachment of President Trump is illegitimate because the House voted along party lines,” Schumer said.
“Forgive me, but House Democrats cannot be held responsible for the cravenness of the House Republican caucus and their blind fealty to the president,” he added.
Schumer has presented a proposal for a trial that would kick off the week of January 6 and include four witnesses not heard from in the House proceedings, including acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton. McConnell has previously appeared to reject that plan, however, saying the Senate was not going to do “House Democrats’ homework for them”.
McConnell and Schumer met late on Thursday. The Senate majority leader said the pair had a cordial conversation, but continued to disagree on whether witnesses should be heard.
According to constitutional scholars, there is no obligation for House to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate to trigger a trial. — Al Jazeera