Pelosi not ready to send articles of impeachment, but could be 'soon'

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By Alex Moe and Dareh Gregorian and Kyle Stewart  with NBC News Politics
Image: Nancy Pelosi Holds Weekly News Conference
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., answers questions during her weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 22, 2016.   -   Copyright  Win McNamee Getty Images file

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her fellow Democrats Tuesday that she's not yet ready to send the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate — but suggested she could be soon.

In a letter to colleagues, Pelosi maintained she wants to immediately see the Senate resolution laying out the process for Trump's trial before she transmits the articles charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress on to the Senate. The move would start the trial process in the Senate.

"Soon, the Senate will have the opportunity to honor its oath to "do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws,'" Pelosi wrote, before arguing the process that's been proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unfair.

McConnell has said he plans to use the same process that was laid out in Bill Clinton's impeachment — allow the House to lay out the charges, the White House to lay out its defense, and then have both sides answer senators' questions. When the questions have concluded, senators can then vote on whether they should dismiss the case or hear testimony from witnesses.

In the Clinton impeachment trial, senators heard videotaped testimony from three witnesses.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have called on McConnell to include witness testimony in the trial rules from the outset, noting that unlike the Clinton administration, the Trump administration has blocked several key witnesses from testifying before the House. McConnell has refused and said Tuesday he has the votes necessary to pass a resolution following the Clinton playbook.

"In addition, this morning, Leader McConnell said, 'We'll be glad to show [the resolution] to you when we unveil it.' It is important that he 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 wrote.

House Democratic leadership met Tuesday as members returned to the Capitol. While most Democratic lawmakers were mum on Pelosi's next moves, many said they support her stance with the Senate and would not question her tactics.

"I'm not going to second guess her. So far she's been pretty, pretty damn good," Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said.

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said he was confident Pelosi would send the articles over to the Senate at some point adding Pelosi will "figure it out" with McConnell because "that's the game that she brings, she'll figure out."