Some Democratic senators say it's time for Pelosi to submit Trump impeachment articles

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By Allan Smith and Julie Tsirkin  with NBC News Politics
Image: U.S. House Speaker Pelosi holds her weekly news conference at the U.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during her news conference at the Capitol on Dec. 19, 2019.   -   Copyright  Jonathan Ernst Reuters

A growing number of Democratic senators are saying it's time for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to submit the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate.

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

In an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday, Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said he believes "it is time for the speaker to send" the articles.

"I don't think her holding them puts any particular pressure on" Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., King said. "I think the key vote will come in the middle of the trial."

Meanwhile, Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., told CNN Tuesday in remarks confirmed by NBC News that he is "hoping" Pelosi will soon submit the articles, although he is still concerned about an agreement to hear from witnesses during the Senate trial.

Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., both told The Washington Post on Tuesday that they believe it's time to transmit the articles.

So far, Pelosi is standing firm, continuing to withhold the articles until the Senate process is explicitly laid out, though she suggested she could soon submit them.

"Soon, the Senate will have the opportunity to honor its oath to 'do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws,'" Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues on Tuesday before arguing the process proposed by McConnell is unfair.

No trial can begin until the articles are sent.

McConnell has said he wants the Senate to conform to the process from former President Bill Clinton's 1999 impeachment trial, which amounted to a two-step process: first, an initial agreement to hear the case and then a later vote to decide whether to call witnesses.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has pushed for a single resolution that would set parameters for presenting the case and for the calling of witnesses. Schumer wants the Senate to call four witnesses to testify about Trump's conduct toward Ukraine, including former national security adviser John Bolton, who announced this week he would testify if subpoenaed, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

McConnell said Tuesday that he has the votesto set the process he desires.

On Wednesday, McConnell said questions about witness testimony will be raised "at the appropriate time," adding, "Now, even fellow Democrats are expressing public concern over the speaker's endless appetite for these cynical games."

Last month, the House approved two articles of impeachment against Trump. The first charged him with abusing his power by trying to press Ukraine to announce investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden and Democrats, and withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine as well as an official White House visit for Ukrainian Presidency Volodymyr Zelenskiy as he pursued those probes. The second article charged Trump with obstructing Congress' efforts to probe the matter.

"The important thing to me is getting to the facts," King said Tuesday. "I think it's going to be very hard for somebody to vote against calling witnesses — particularly, again, someone like John Bolton, who's indicated willingness to come in."