House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday suggested that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been withholding the articles of impeachment to prevent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other White House hopefuls in the Senate from campaigning during the upcoming trial.
McCarthy, speaking at a press conference in the Capitol, alleged that there were questions among Democratic leaders “about why she held them.”
“If there’s anyone who gained from this, it would be anybody who’s running for president that’s not in the U.S. Senate,” McCarthy said.
Pelosi has consistently said since mid-December that she wanted more clarity on the how the GOP-controlled Senate would conduct President Trump‘s impeachment trial before sending over the two articles.
The trial is expected to start next week and may last several weeks, possibly bumping up against the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary the following week.
McCarthy went on to say that Sanders “actually has a chance to win [the Democratic presidential nomination] but not now that Nancy Pelosi has held these documents.”
Sanders has been climbing in nationwide polls, where former Vice President Joe Biden is the front-runner, and leads in some surveys of early voting states.
McCarthy said “if you look at the true political nature” of Pelosi’s decision to withhold the two articles of impeachment, it was “to harm one campaign and give a benefit to another.”
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, tweeted a response to McCarthy’s remarks.
“Impeachment has nothing to do with politics or the presidential race. As usual, the Minority Leader has no idea what he’s talking about,” Hammill wrote.
Impeachment has nothing to do with politics or the presidential race. As usual, the Minority Leader has no idea what he’s talking about. https://t.co/XSuQ517a7K
— Drew Hammill (@Drew_Hammill) January 14, 2020
McCarthy also called on Biden to pause his campaign during the impeachment trial that Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.) will also be expected to attend instead of campaigning.
“The only rightful thing of Joe Biden is to make a pledge not to campaign while Bernie Sanders cannot,” McCarthy said Tuesday.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), a member of Democratic leadership, rejected McCarthy’s comments.
“We will not take campaign advice from Kevin McCarthy,” Jeffries said at a press conference shortly after McCarthy’s remarks.
The House is expected to vote on a resolution to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate on Wednesday.
Updated at 12:55 p.m.