Impeachment trial plans in disarray as Congress heads home

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress has departed Washington for the holidays with any plans or possible timeline for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in disarray.

The day after the House approved two impeachment articles, Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted on Thursday that Senate Republicans must provide details on witnesses and testimony before she would send over the charges for Trump’s trial.

No deal, replied Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after meeting with his Senate Democratic counterpart.

He stated the obvious: “We remain at an impasse.”

He wondered aloud what Pelosi hoped to gain by refusing to send over “something that we do not want.”

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Kellogg Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Mich.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Kellogg Arena, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Mich. (Source: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci/AP)

It is a turnabout from four years ago, when congressional Republicans wanted nothing to do with the insurgent and inflammatory Trump campaign.

Pelosi says Republicans want to "protect the president at the cost of the Constitution.”

She questioned GOP lawmakers’ comments during Wednesday’s impeachment debate comparing Trump’s impeachment to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

The House charged Trump with abusing his power and obstructing Congress in a vote mainly along party lines, accusations stemming from his pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rival as Trump withheld U.S. aid.

Trump is lashing out at Pelosi after she threw uncertainty into the impeachment process by refusing to say when she would send the impeachment articles to the Republican-controlled Senate for a trial.

Trump tweeted that if Democrats didn’t transmit the articles of impeachment “they would lose by Default!” McConnell, in a Thursday floor speech, accused Pelosi of being afraid to send “their shoddy work product to the Senate.”

Pelosi declined to say when she would sent the impeachment charges to the Senate, where Trump is expected to be acquitted.

She made the comments after McConnell rejected a proposal from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to call several witnesses.

McConnell also said that he is coordinating with the White House and declared that “'I am not an impartial juror.”

Pelosi said that was unfair and that she would wait to see what the Senate does next.

In a record-long two-hour rally speech, Trump told supporters Wednesday in Michigan that the effort against him was “illegal" and accused Democrats of demonstrating “deep hatred and disdain” for voters.

Trump was hosting the rally when the House approved the two articles of impeachment.

Pelosi said Trump’s actions had given lawmakers no choice.

The White House said that Trump was “riffing” Wednesday when he took a swipe at the late Democratic Rep. John Dingell during his rally. That drew a quick rebuke from Rep. Debbie Dingell, the longtime Michigan congressman’s widow and successor in the House.

Trump said that Debbie Dingell had thanked him for providing “A-plus treatment” after her husband’s death in February. He added that maybe the deceased congressman was “looking up," rather than down, from beyond the grave.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham says she doesn’t know why Trump attacked the Dingells, but tells ABC’s “Good Morning America" Trump "was just riffing on some of the things that had been happening the past few days.”

Pelosi said Thursday what Trump “misunderstands is that cruelty is not wit.”

In festive places and rush-hour frenzy a week from Christmas, Americans absorbed the moment Trump became only the third president in history to be impeached. The Associated Press asked people across the country to offer their thoughts on the historic vote in the House of Representatives.

The response is as polarized as the country is known to be.

But it’s possible that people on both sides agree with a state government worker in Tallahassee, Florida, Mark McQueen, when he said: “Tensions are high across the land."

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