Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, says she intends to transmit articles of impeachment against US president Donald Trump to the Senate "soon", as the impeachment process remained at an impasse on Thursday.
Mr Trump became the third US president in history to be impeached last month, when he was charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over his dealings with Ukraine.
But in an unusual move, Ms Pelosi delayed sending the impeachment articles to the Senate immediately, instead demanding confirmation from the upper chamber that it would conduct a fair trial. Speaking at her weekly press conference on Thursday, Ms Pelosi maintained this position.
The longer it goes on the less urgent it becomes. So if it's serious and urgent, send them over
“As I said right from the start, we need to see the arena in which we are sending our managers. Is that too much to ask?” she said, a reference to the impeachment “managers” that the House of Representatives will send to the Senate to represent the House position in the trial.
Nonetheless, she suggested she could move the articles “soon”.
“I’m not holding the articles indefinitely. I will turn them over when I’m ready, and that will probably be soon.”
The stalemate continued on Thursday, despite members of Ms Pelosi’s own party raising concerns about the delay.
"The longer it goes on the less urgent it becomes," said Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein. "So if it's serious and urgent, send them over. If it isn't, don't send it over."
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell accused Ms Pelosi of playing 'reckless games with impeachment'
Democratic congressman Adam Smith also said in a morning television interview that it was "time" to send the impeachment to the Senate. But in a tweet soon after, he said he "misspoke" during the interview. "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."
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said this week he believed he has enough support in the Republican-controlled Senate to move forward with his proposed impeachment rules, without Democratic support. A simple majority in the 100-member Senate is needed to approve the rules governing the impeachment trial.
With Republicans holding 53 seats, it had been expected that some Republicans could break with their party and vote against, but Mr McConnell has suggested that he believes he has the full support of his caucus. On Thursday he accused Ms Pelosi of playing “reckless games with impeachment”.
Meanwhile, asked on Thursday about the possibility of his former national security adviser John Bolton testifying, Mr Trump said "presidential privilege" needed to be protected, suggesting the White House could move to oppose it.