WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi taunted each other Sunday as Trump's Senate impeachment trial looms in the days ahead.
The U.S. leader called Pelosi, his chief impeachment antagonist in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, "Crazy Nancy," even before she told ABC News' This Sunday show that Trump is "impeached for life" no matter how his Senate trial plays out.
The House last month approved two articles of impeachment against Trump linked to his efforts to get Ukraine to launch investigations to benefit himself politically -- that he abused the office of the presidency and then obstructed congressional efforts to investigate his Ukraine-related actions.
But Pelosi for three weeks has balked at sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate in a futile effort to get Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, a staunch Trump ally supporting his acquittal, to agree to hear key Trump aides testify at the Senate trial about the president's actions and subpoena White House documents.
The House leader is consulting with her Democratic colleagues Tuesday about the timing of sending the impeachment articles to the Senate, but is planning on naming a handful of lawmakers to press the case against Trump. If that happens, the Senate trial could start later in the week.
Pelosi warned the majority Senate Republicans, some of whom have sought to quickly acquit Trump without hearing new witnesses, that history would judge them harshly if they do not conduct an extensive impeachment trial, only the third such time in the country's 244-year history that a president has faced an impeachment trial and possible removal from office.
"It's about a fair trial," Pelosi said. "They take an oath to have a fair trial and we think that should be with witnesses and documents."
"Do that or pay a price," she said.
"We have confidence in our case," Pelosi said. "This president is impeached for life regardless of any gamesmanship on the part of Mitch McConnell." She said Democrats believe there is already enough evidence to remove Trump from office, "However, we want the American public to see the truth and why are they afraid of the truth?"
Democrats are seeking to hear the testimony of at least four Trump aides, including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, neither of whom testified in the lead-up to the House impeaching Trump. The president ordered both to not participate in the House impeachment investigation, but Bolton last week said he would testify at the Senate trial if he is subpoenaed.
The minority bloc of 47 Senate Democrats would need four Republican lawmakers to join them to override McConnell's opposition to new witnesses and vote to hear new testimony. Republican Sen. Susan Collins said Friday she is working with a "small number" of Republicans to ensure that new testimony would be heard. McConnell says he has enough Republican votes to ensure that no vote on new witnesses would occur until after House managers present their case against Trump and the president's lawyers state their defense.
Trump is all but certain to win acquittal in the Republican-controlled Senate and remain in office, but the uncertainty of the moment has left him to fume almost daily on Twitter about what he sees as the unfairness of the case against him.
"Why should I have the stigma of Impeachment attached to my name when I did NOTHING wrong?" he said Sunday. "Read the Transcripts! A totally partisan Hoax, never happened before. House Republicans voted 195-0, with three Dems voting with the Republicans. Very unfair to tens of millions of voters!"
The central allegation against Trump is that he abused his office by pressing Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an investigation of one of Trump's chief 2020 Democratic presidential rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden's work for a Ukrainian natural gas company and a debunked theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. election to undermine Trump's campaign.
Trump made the request to Zelenskiy in a late July phone call that came as Trump was temporarily withholding $391 million in military aid that Kyiv wanted to help fight pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
But Trump released the money in September without Zelenskiy opening the investigations of the Bidens, proof, Republicans say, that Trump did not engage in a reciprocal, quid pro quo deal with Ukraine --the investigations in exchange for the military assistance.