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House Democratic chair walks back call for Pelosi to send impeachment articles to Senate

The Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday publicly called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate before quickly walking the comments back.

Earlier Thursday morning, Rep. Adam Smith of Washington told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day” that “it is time” for Pelosi to send the articles, a notable dissent from a prominent House Democrat. CNN has reported that some Senate Democrats have grown restless over the delay, which Pelosi has claimed is necessary to ensure the Senate trial has fair rules, but House Democrats have largely avoided publicly breaking with their speaker.

Smith quickly walked back the comments on Twitter following his “New Day” interview.

“I misspoke this morning, I do believe we should do everything we can to force the Senate to have a fair trial. If the Speaker believes that holding on to the articles for a longer time will help force a fair trial in the Senate, then I wholeheartedly support that decision,” Smith tweeted.

He added, “Ultimately, I do want the articles sent to the Senate for the very simple reason that I want the impeachment process to go forward.”

In his “New Day” interview, Smith said that it was “perfectly advisable” for Pelosi to hold onto the two articles of impeachment as Democrats tried leveraging a Senate trial “that would show evidence and bring out witnesses.”

“At this point, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen,” Smith said.

Democrats want a deal up front to hear from witnesses and get documents, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says those matters should be dealt with later after opening statements in the trial.

While Senate Democrats have supported Pelosi’s push for witnesses, several senators made clear Tuesday that they’re ready to move on from the speaker’s withholding of the articles and start proceedings. Several House Democrats have also told CNN that Pelosi should send over the articles, but they’ve declined to say so publicly.

McConnell does not plan to move forward on a trial until the Senate gets the articles of impeachment from the House. Pelosi has held onto them since they were voted on in the House last month.

The Senate Republican leader said Tuesday that he has the votes to set the ground rules of the impeachment trial without Democrats’ support. Pelosi, however, has demanded to see the resolution setting the procedures.

This story has been updated to include additional comments from Smith.

CNN