Delaying Trump's Senate trial undercuts Democratic claims impeachment was 'urgent,' VP's chief of staff says

Access to the comments Comments
By Ben Kamisar  with NBC News Politics
Image: Marc Short, the chief of staff to the Vice President, appears on "Me
Marc Short, the chief of staff to the Vice President, appears on "Meet The Press."   -   Copyright  NBC News

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff argued Sunday that the House Democrats' delay in turning over impeachment articles to the Senate has undercut their own arguments about the urgency in pursuing the process in the first place.

"It's a really untenable position, we think, for Speaker Pelosi to say, 'this president is such a clear and urgent danger to the world, to the globe, that we have to basically trample his constitutional rights, to force a quick impeachment,' and then say, 'well, we're going to hold up impeachment papers,'" Marc Short said Sunday during an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press."

"How can you possibly justify the contrast to say, 'this is urgent,' to then say, 'well, we'll have to wait and see?'"

The House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump on two articles last week — abuse of power and obstructing Congress — in largely party-line votes.

Democrats have accused Trump of pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential rival in next year's presidential election.

And they've said his administration had stonewalled congressional attempts to investigate those allegations.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced late Wednesday that she wouldn't immediately send over the House-approved articles to the Senate, arguing that she isn't yet convinced the Senate trial would be "fair."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer so far remain at an impasse over the rules for a Senate trial over the articles.

Democrats have criticized McConnell for not not setting the stage for an impartial trial, and the Senate leader has publicly said he is working closely with the White House on the matter.

"I'm not an impartial juror," McConnell told reporters last week, adding, "this is a political process."

Short told "Meet the Press" that he believed the Senate will eventually "strike a deal" on the parameters of the trial and said that Trump "wants to prove his innocence."

"I think at the same time the American people are tired of the sham," he said. "And I think we're anxious to get back to the work for the American people."

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. told "Meet the Press" Sunday that McConnell's comments justified Pelosi's decision to delay transmitting the articles to the Senate, saying the majority leader "openly" declared "he will violate his oath and not be impartial."

"Those articles will come over," said Booker, who is also running for the Democratic presidential nomination. "I talked to Chuck Schumer this week, we all know they will. But what I think she's trying to do is make sure the best possible case for a fair trial happens," he said.

Short also said Sunday that the vice president's office still remains open to releasing a readout of a call between Pence' and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

More information about that call had been requested by House Democrats in their impeachment investigation, but the Trump administration refused to comply with that investigation.