Rep. Adam Smith Walks Back Criticism of Pelosi’s Impeachment Holdup: ‘I Misspoke’

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: House Armed Services ranking member Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) (L) and committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) hold a media availability to discuss their proposed legislation to provide defensive lethal assistance for Ukraine in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill February 10, 2015 in …
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Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) is walking back his criticism of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) impeachment holdup, claiming he “misspoke” when he told a national television audience on Thursday it was time for the proceedings to move forward.

Smith, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, surprised many this morning when he broke ranks and joined a growing list of House Democrats in urging Pelosi to stop stalling and send the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.

“I think it is [time],” the congressman said during an appearance on CNN. “I mean, I understand what the speaker was trying to do … to try to get a reasonable trial, a trial that would actually show evidence, bring out witnesses.”

Smith argued that while Pelosi was correct to try and extract more favorable guidelines governing the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, the ultimate decision of how the proceedings would run was up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

“I think it was perfectly advisable for the speaker to leverage that to get a better deal,” he said. “At this point, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. And yes, I think it is time to send the impeachment to the Senate and let Mitch McConnell be responsible for the fairness of the trial.”

Only an hour after he enunciated that position, Smith reversed course, claiming he “misspoke” and in fact was completely supportive of Pelosi’s pressure campaign.

“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,” the congressman wrote on social media.

Smith further expressed that although he “ultimately” did “want the articles sent to the senate” so the “impeachment process” could go forward, Pelosi was right in seeking assurances from McConnell that Trump would face a “fair trail.”

The congressman’s abrupt reversal was all the more bewildering given that he has not always toed the Democrats’ line on opposing Trump. In particular, Smith argued during last year’s government shutdown that Trump was within his means to declare a national emergency to push the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. More recently, Smith has bemoaned the lack of bipartisan support for the impeachment effort, even admitting he was hesitant to launch the initial inquiry that lead to the current standoff.

Smith’s waffling comes as Pelosi struggles to hold her majority in line behind withholding the articles of impeachment. Pelosi is rumored to be holding out for an agreement from McConnell that an extensive list of witnesses, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton, will be called to testify.

The speaker’s ruse, however, seems not have convinced either McConnell, who announced this week his caucus was “united” against the pressure campaign, or many of her own fellow Democrats.

On Tuesday, three senior Democrat senators came forward to express support for the impeachment trial starting without concessions from the GOP majority on witnesses.

“I think the time has past. She [Pelosi] should send the articles over,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) told the Washington Post. 

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