One day after U.S. President Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will not send the articles of impeachment to the Senate or choose impeachment prosecutors until the Senate agrees on rules governing the process.
"When we see what they have, we'll know who and how many to send over," Pelosi said at her weekly Capitol Hill news conference.
The Senate is not authorized to begin a trial until it receives the articles from the House.
On a near straight party line vote, the Democrat-controlled House approved two articles of impeachment against Trump, a Republican, making him only the third U.S. president to be impeached in the country's 243-year history. He is accused of abusing the power of the presidency to benefit himself politically and then obstructing congressional efforts to investigate his actions.
Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday that Pelosi is afraid to send the Democrats' "shoddy work product to the Senate" after declaring the Democratic Party-led impeachment hearings an "unfair" process that has created "a toxic new precedent that will echo well into the future."
A trial in the Senate, which McConnell has said would be a top priority in January, is likely to end with Trump's acquittal by the majority-Republican body.
When asked about the prospects of a fair Senate trial as mandated by the Constitution, Pelosi took aim at both Trump and McConnell, stating she does not think the Founding Fathers ever "suspected that we could have a rogue president and a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time.”
On Twitter, Trump charged that "Pelosi feels her phony impeachment HOAX is so pathetic she is afraid to present it to the Senate, which can set a date and put this whole SCAM into default if they refuse to show up!"
Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch ally of Trump, tweeted early Thursday that Pelosi's failure to send the articles to the Senate "would be a breathtaking violation of the Constitution, an act of political cowardice, and fundamentally unfair" to Trump.
The White House released a statement shortly after the vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday, calling it a "sham impeachment" and the culmination of "one of the most shameful political episodes in the history of our Nation."
The statement added Trump "is prepared for the next steps and confident that he will be fully exonerated."
The House debated the merits of Trump's impeachment for more than six hours before voting. Democratic lawmakers pointedly advanced the case for Trump's impeachment. They alternated with Republicans, who said Trump had done nothing wrong in his months-long push to get Ukraine to investigate one of Trump's chief 2020 Democratic challengers, former vice president Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden's lucrative work for a Ukrainian natural gas company and a debunked theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election that Trump won to undermine his campaign.
Trump made the appeal for the Biden investigations directly to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a late July phone call at a time when he was temporarily withholding $391 million in military aid Kyiv wanted to help fight pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Trump eventually released the money in September without Zelenskiy launching the Biden investigations, proof, Republicans said during the House floor debate, that Trump had not engaged in a reciprocal quid pro quo deal, the military aid in exchange for the Biden investigations.
One of the articles of impeachment approved by the House accused Trump of abusing the power of the presidency by soliciting a foreign government, Ukraine, to undertake the investigations to help him run against Biden, who is leading national polls of Democrats in the race for the party's presidential nomination to oppose Trump next year.
In the 230-197 vote on Article I, all but two Democrats voted for approval, and all Republicans voted against it.
The second impeachment allegation said Trump obstructed Congress by withholding thousands of Ukraine-related documents from House impeachment investigators and then blocking key officials in his administration from testifying during weeks of hearings Democratic-controlled committees conducted into Trump's actions related to Ukraine.
In the 229-198 vote on Article II, all but three Democrats voted for approval, and all Republicans voted against it.
The two other U.S. presidents who have been impeached were Andrew Johnson in the mid-19th century and Bill Clinton two decades ago. Both were acquitted in the Senate and remained in office.
The impeachment votes were held about the same time Trump began to speak at a campaign rally in the Midwestern state of Michigan, one of the pivotal states he won in the 2016 election.
"This lawless, partisan impeachment is a political suicide march for the Democrat Party. Have you seen my polls in the last four weeks?" he said at the rally.
Trump has on countless occasions described his late July call with Zelenskiy as "perfect," when he asked him to "do us a favor," to investigate the Bidens and Ukraine's purported role in the 2016 election. As the impeachment controversy mounted,Trump has subsequently claimed the "us" in his request to Zelenskiy referred not to him personally but to the United States.