Van Hollen: Pelosi “doing exactly the right thing” on impeachment articles

Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to delay sending the House-approved articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate, saying she is “doing exactly the right thing.”

“What Speaker Pelosi is doing is focusing attention on the need for a fair trial, and a fair trial means you get to call your witnesses,” Van Hollen said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” “Every American knows that, that’s what a trial is all about. How can it be a fair trial if you can’t put on the rest of your case?”

The House passed two articles of impeachment charging Mr. Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in a historic vote Wednesday. But Pelosi has not yet transmitted the articles to the Senate for a trial over concerns the proceedings in the upper chamber will not be fair.

Van Hollen said concerns about a fair trial are valid, particularly given comments from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he is not an “impartial juror” and would work in “total coordination” with the White House.

McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, has also rebuffed requests from Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer for testimony from four top White House officials, including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Adviser John Bolton. The White House blocked key aides from appearing before the House during its impeachment inquiry, and that action formed the basis of the House’s obstruction of Congress charge.

“Democrats want assurances upfront that this is going to be a fair trial and that you’re going to be able to call witnesses,” Van Hollen said.

The Maryland Democrat also said that if Mr. Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect,” as the president has repeatedly asserted, then there should be no hesitation to having Mulvaney and Bolton testify. The president’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky, during which he urged his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate his political rivals, was at the heart of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump.

“What are they afraid of?” Van Hollen said of the White House, adding that it’s the Republicans who are “deathly afraid” of hearing from administration officials because it will make it more difficult for them to vote to acquit Mr. Trump.

Van Hollen, meanwhile, said he has not yet decided whether he would convict Mr. Trump on the charges.

“I think that the House has made a very strong case for impeachment, but I will reserve final judgment until all the evidence is in,” he said.

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