| November 19, 2019 01:38 PM
House Democrats said they won’t set a deadline for concluding impeachment proceedings against President Trump that has dragged on for weeks and now threaten to encroach on the Democratic presidential primary season.
“It’s hard to get any sense of what the timeline is going to be moving forward,” House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries of New York said Tuesday after a closed-door meeting with party lawmakers.
Democrats who huddled privately with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Tuesday said she made no announcement about the next steps in the investigation, now that the House Intelligence Committee has begun the second week of public hearings that follow weeks of closed-door testimony.
“The speaker has made it clear she is not going to put a timetable on the impeachment inquiry in terms of when it concludes because we are going to simply be guided by the truth,” Jeffries said. “We are not even determined whether articles of impeachment are going to be recommended.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Democrats are not setting the impeachment schedule around the five Senate Democrats who are running for president.
If the House passes impeachment articles and sends them to the Senate, the upper chamber will have to hold a trial that could last months and mandate daily attendance, six days per week.
An early winter trial could pull the senators who are Democratic presidential candidates off the campaign trail in the critical weeks prior to the opening contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“Neither polls nor elections are going to change our timing,” Hoyer said Tuesday. “The relevant issue is that we do what is our responsibility, and that is to do oversight.”
Lawmakers also must “conclude whether the president of the United States abused his power,” Hoyer said.
Democrats leave for a week-long recess on Thursday, and when they return in December, will have to decide whether to have more hearings or send a report to the Judiciary Committee, which would consider potential impeachment resolutions.
Hoyer said he expected hearings “to conclude in the relatively near future.”
Democrats began the impeachment investigation in late September and sanctioned the proceedings in an Oct. 31 party-line vote.
Nine witnesses will testify this week before the House Intelligence Committee, which is expected to produce a report and recommendation to the House Judiciary Committee.
That panel will then be tasked with drafting impeachment articles if Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff recommends them.
While the California Democrat insists he has not made up his mind, his public statements suggest he’ll call for articles accusing Trump of abuse of power and obstructing Congress in his effort to get Ukraine to investigate corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden.