The Latest: Inhofe off on family matter for Trump trial open
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s impeachment (all times local):
The Senate is one man short on the opening day of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Republican James Inhofe is back in Oklahoma “to be with a family member facing a medical issue,” his office says.
Inhofe says he’ll return to Washington in time for the start of opening arguments on Tuesday. He’s considered a reliable vote to acquit Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He is one of just 13 senators who served in the body during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton 21 years ago.
Senators have been instructed to “plan to be in attendance at all times during the proceedings,” according to guidelines issued by Senate leaders for the trial.
Inhofe’s office says “he plans to return to Washington on Tuesday where he will be sworn in with no delay to the impeachment process.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump can keep his Feb. 4 appointment with Congress to deliver his State of the Union address or he can ask to postpone it until after his Senate impeachment trial.
Pelosi told reporters Thursday the decision is “up to the president.”
Pelosi says the president “has options.” She says he “could come that day, we are prepared to welcome him that day.” She says he also could send a printed copy of his speech “or he could ask us to postpone it if in fact he wants to have it after all of this is resolved.”
But Pelosi says the timing of the trial on abuse and obstruction charges “should not be hastened because of the speech he wants to make to the Congress of the United States.”
There has been no response from the White House.
There is precedent for a president to speak amid impeachment proceedings. In 1999, an impeached President Bill Clinton defiantly delivered a State of the Union address to Congress as the Senate considered charges against him. Clinton spoke jovially for more than an hour and about policy and did not mention the trial.
Clinton said at the time, “The state of our union is strong.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says a federal watchdog’s report on President Donald Trump’s freeze of aid to Ukraine makes it more important for Congress to get new testimony and documents.
Pelosi spoke Thursday after a federal watchdog agency reported that withholding the military aid violated the law. Withholding the aid is at the center of Trump’s impeachment.
Trump became the third impeached president in history over his demand that Ukraine investigate his political rivals while he froze the congressionally approved money.
Pelosi told reporters: “Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law.”
She added: “This reinforces again the need for documents and eyewitnesses in the Senate.”
The Senate begins transforming into a court on Thursday to consider the articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump has denied doing anything wrong.