The House voted on Wednesday to send the impeachment articles against President Donald Trump to the Senate and Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the seven House Democrats who will serve as the “managers” in the trial next week.
The measure passed on a 228 to 193 vote, with one Democrat opposing the resolution — Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, who also voted last month against both articles of impeachment.
The two articles, charging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress will be hand-delivered to the Senate later Wednesday; the trial is expected to begin on Tuesday. It remains undecided if witnesses will be called to testify.
The House managers who will prosecute the case against the president in the Senate are: Reps. Adam Schiff of California, who will be the lead manager; Jerry Nadler of New York’ Hakeem Jeffries of New York; Jason Crow of Colorado; Zoe Lofgren of California; Val Demings of Florida; and Sylvia Garcia of Texas.
The managers have varied biographies: Schiff was a federal prosecutor; Demings was a police chief; several are attorneys, and Lofgren was a staffer on the House Judiciary Committee during the Nixon impeachment and a House member during the Clinton impeachment.
“This is about the Constitution of the United States and it’s important for the president to know and Putin to know that American voters — voters in America — should decide who our president is,” Pelosi said at a press conference with the managers.
Nadler said on the floor ahead of the resolution vote, “Our speaker has led our fight for a fair trial in the Senate. Above all, a fair trial must include additional documents and relevant witnesses. The American people have common sense. They know that any trial that does not allow witnesses is not a trial. It is a coverup.
Trump tweeted during Pelosi’s press conference, calling the impeachment a “Con Job” while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., spoke on the Senate floor at the same time as Pelosi.
Trump told GOP lawmakers who attended the signing of his trade deal with China, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican minority leader, that he’d understand if they had to leave for the vote on the impeachment resolution. “They have a hoax going on over there so let’s take care of it,” Trump said.
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“It undoes the people’s decision in a national election,” McConnell said. “Going about it in this subjective, unfair and rushed way is corrosive to our institutions. It hurts national unity, and it virtually guarantees — guarantees — that future Houses of either party will feel free, free to impeach any future president because they don’t like him.”
Pelosi also reiterated her call for witness testimony at the trial.
“Time has been our friend in all of this, because it has yielded incriminating evidence, more truth into the public domain,” Pelsoi said.
Earlier, she spoke out about newly-released documents linking Trump directly to his attorney Rudy Giuliani’s political digging in Ukraine, saying they highlighted the need for witness testimony at the impeachment trial.
“There can be no full & fair trial in the Senate if Leader McConnell blocks the Senate from hearing witnesses and obtaining documents President Trump is covering up,” Pelosi said in one tweet.
“The President has fought tooth-and-nail to keep thousands of documents away from the public,” the speaker said in another tweet. “And no wonder — each time new pieces come out, they show President Trump right at the center of the effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.”
The documents — part of the evidence turned over to House impeachment investigators by lawyers for Lev Parnas, a Giuliani associate who is awaiting trial on campaign finance charges — include a letter from Giuliani requesting a private meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, then the president-elect of Ukraine, with Trump’s “knowledge and consent.”
The letter, written on Giuliani’s letterhead, was dated May 10, 2018.
Trump has previously tried to distance himself from his attorney’s Ukraine work, saying in November, “I didn’t direct him.”
But the documents, which were released on Tuesday by House Democrats, appear to bolster House Democrats’ claim that Trump was more than aware of Giuliani’s efforts to find dirt in Ukraine on political rival Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee.
Managers who spoke during the press conference emphasized that if Republicans block the testimony of witnesses or documents, then they are engaging in a cover-up.
“If the Senate doesn’t permit the introduction of all relevant witnesses and of all documents that the House wants to introduce because the House is the prosecutor here, then the Senate is engaging in an unconstitutional and disgusting cover-up,” said Nadler. “The question is: Does the Senate conduct a trial according to the Constitution, to vindicate the republic or does the Senate participate in the president’s crimes by covering them up?”
House Democrats are expected to vote on sending the articles of impeachment from the House to the Senate, where Trump will be tried. Pelosi held the articles in the House for weeks, seeking to negotiate an agreement for witness testimony in the Senate. McConnell rebuffed her efforts to negotiate a deal, and the nation’s third presidential impeachment trial in American history is set to begin next week.
The decision to delay the transmission of the articles to the Senate, Schiff said, was “very effective” in bringing new evidence to light and forcing senators to go on the record regarding whether they want a fair trial.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on the House floor Wednesday, “Instead of sending the articles impeachment to the Senate for trial, Speaker Pelosi held them hostage in a failed play to gain leverage that she did not, and would never, have in terms of concessions. She got nothing, no control, no moral victories. In other words, another failed strategy.”
The president complained earlier this week that he didn’t receive a fair “trial” in the House of Representatives. Impeachment trials only occur in the Senate, while the House is charged with investigating and deciding whether a trial should occur.
A senior administration official said Wednesday that it would be “extraordinarily unlikely” for the trial to go beyond two weeks, arguing that the articles of impeachment were so thin it won’t take long for the president’s team to mount a defense.
The official also said they don’t expect the Senate will hear from witnesses, but if they do, the president’s side would expect to be able to call their own.
The official declined to comment on whether Trump would assert executive privilege to block former national security adviser John Bolton from testifying if subpoenaed at the urging by Democrats, but said it would be an “extraordinary matter” to have someone in that position publicly discuss private conversations about national security matters with the president.