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White House says it's ready for impeachment votes and trial

John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump and senior aides reacted to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement that articles of impeachment are coming by essentially calling for a vote and a Senate trial.

The White House messaging is similar to that used by President Bill Clinton and his aides in 1998: pressing lawmakers to expedite the impeachment process and Senate trial so Washington can focus on other matters.

That strategy is based on advice from Clinton White House veterans -- some solicited, some offered for free on cable news programs and in newspaper op-eds. In the 1990s, Clinton rarely discussed his impeachment process, and his top aides' public message was about all the legislation and other policy efforts on which their boss was working.

"If you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair ... trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business," Trump tweeted after Pelosi announced she had asked House committee chairs to craft impeachment articles.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham acknowledged the Democratic majority would be enough to impeachment Trump. "We look forward to a fair trial in the Senate," she tweeted.

Then came a statement from Brad Parscale, Trump's 2020 election campaign manager.

 

"Impeaching the President has always been their goal, so they should just get on with it so we can have a fair trial in the Senate and expose The Swamp for what it is," Parscale said.

But was this message shift to the Senate's role the equivalent of the White House waving a white flag on the House process? Not so fast, said one White House official.

"There is no white flag," the official said. "We don't know if Pelosi has the votes or not."

Asked if Trump and his team now see no way to avoid him becoming just the third American president to be impeached, after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, the official, granted anonymity to speak freely, replied with a shake of the head: "We don't know if that's inevitable. Does she have the votes? You'll have to ask her." (Both Johnson and Clinton were acquitted in their Senate trials.)

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