US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said that Republican President Donald Trump is "impeached for life" regardless of "any gamesmanship" by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
In an interview with ABC News on Sunday, she defended her decision to temporarily delay the Senateís impeachment trial of the president and accused McConnell of orchestrating a "coverup" of Trumpís actions.
"What we think we accomplished in the past few weeks is that we wanted the public to see the need for witnesses," Pelosi said.
"Now the ball is in their court to either do that or pay the price," noted Pelosi, who said on Friday that she would send the articles of impeachment against Trump over to the Senate next week.
Pelosi censured McConnell for signaling that he is not interested in fully considering the Houseís charges in the Senate that will almost certainly result in Trumpís acquittal.
"Dismissing is a coverup. Dismissing is a coverup. If they want to go that route again, the senators who are thinking now about voting for witnesses or not - they will have to be accountable for not having a fair trial," she said on ABC Newsís "This Week."
Trump: Senate giving impeachment ícredibilityí by holding trial
Trump on Sunday said that Republicans were giving credibility to the impeachment inquiry by holding a trial in the Senate.
The president appeared to urge Senate Republicans to reject the idea of holding a trial at all.
"Many believe that by the Senate giving credence to a trial based on the no evidence, no crime, read the transcripts, íno pressureí Impeachment Hoax, rather than an outright dismissal, it gives the partisan Democrat Witch Hunt credibility that it otherwise does not have. I agree!" Trump tweeted.
Trump said the upcoming Senate impeachment trial "should not even be allowed to proceed."
"Why should I have the stigma of Impeachment attached to my name when I did NOTHING wrong?" he added in another tweet. "Read the Transcripts! A totally partisan Hoax, never happened before. House Republicans voted 195-0, with three Dems voting with the Republicans. Very unfair to tens of millions of voters!"
The Senate impeachment trial of Trump could begin as early as Wednesday.
Last week, Trump claimed he "did not really care" about the trial in the Senate following his impeachment by the House, but he would be happy to have a trial.
"I donít really care. It doesnít matter. As far as Iím concerned Iíd be very happy with a trial because we did nothing wrong," Trump told reporters on December 31.
The Republican president reiterated that he considered his impeachment by the Democratic-led House a hoax.
Trump and his Republican allies have attacked the impeachment effort as illegitimate.
In an impeachment probe, the House functions like a prosecutorís office. If the chamber charges a president with committing impeachable offenses, a group of House members presents evidence of wrongdoing during a trial before the Senate, which acts as a jury in deciding whether the president should be removed from office.
Under the US Constitution, a two-thirds vote of the Senate is required to convict the president.
Trump on December 19 became the third US president to be impeached when the House voted to charge him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.