McCarthy: Pelosi may have held impeachment articles to hurt Sanders' election chances

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Tuesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., may have withheld the articles of impeachment to hurt Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and other 2020 White House hopefuls who serve in the Senate.

McCarthy was speaking at a Capitol Hill press conference when he suggested Pelosi was playing politics with impeachment to affect the results of the Democratic primary.

"Within her own leadership, there were questions about why she held [the articles]," he said. "But if there's anyone who gained from this, it'd be anybody who's running for president that's not in the U.S. Senate. With Iowa quickly upon us in early February, those four senators who are running for president will now no longer have a voice."

McCarthy also cited Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign and the controversy surrounding the delegate process at the time.

"I know what happened four years ago. Something no one thought would," he said. "That the head of a complete party of the Democrat National Committee resigning the day before, actually the night before, the nominating convention. Why? Because emails came out to show that one of the main campaigners, Sen. Bernie Sanders, was cheated."

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The California Republican said Sanders would have had a fair shot at the 2020 Democratic nomination due to a recent rules change, but claimed Pelosi's actions on impeachment have sabotaged him and stymied his campaign, once again.

"They had a process in there where they had superdelegates. Superdelegates are the insurance policy for the establishment to determine who can become the nominee," McCarthy said. "Because of this horrific act, the Democratic National Committee actually removed superdelegates on the first round. Sen. Sanders actually has a chance to win. But not now, that Nancy Pelosi has held these documents."

"There was nothing gained," he added. "It goes against everything she said. But if you look at the true political nature of why -- [it was] to harm one campaign and give a benefit to another."

McCarthy then called on former Vice President Joe Biden to suspend his campaign while the other candidates who serve in the Senate return to Washington, D.C., to participate in the upcoming impeachment trial.

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"The only rightful thing of Joe Biden is to make a pledge not to campaign while Bernie Sanders cannot -- after what the Democratic National Committee had done to his campaign a few short years ago," he told reporters.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the impeachment trial could begin as early as next Tuesday. Pelosi said the House would vote to send impeachment articles to the Senate on Wednesday.