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WASHINGTON — Meet the new impeachment crew.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just named seven members of the House of Representatives to try to convince the Senate to boot Trump out of office, in a trial set to kick off next week.
For only the third time in U.S. history, a select team of House members will now cross over to the Senate side of the Capitol Building to act as prosecutors in the impeachment trial of a sitting president, while Senators listen silently as a jury. These so-called “impeachment managers” have won a rare historical distinction claimed by only 20 House members before them.
Pelosi’s handpicked roster includes:
- Adam Schiff of California, House Intelligence Chairman
- Jerrold Nadler of New York, House Judiciary Chairman
- Zoe Lofgren, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Administration Chairwoman
- Hakeem Jeffries, Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus
- Val Demings, a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees
- Jason Crow, member of the House Armed Services Committee and former Army Ranger and Iraq War veteran
- Sylvia Garcia, a member of the House Judiciary Committee
These seven House members will now present the case to the Senate that Trump tried to tilt the 2020 election in his favor by pressuring a foreign country, Ukraine, to announce an investigation of his Democratic rival, former vice president Joe Biden.
They’ll accuse Trump of withholding vital military aid from war-torn Ukraine as a bargaining chip, and then, afterward, trying to cover it all up. Those accusations were distilled into two articles of impeachment, passed by the House in December, which these managers are expected to deliver to the Senate this week: one for abuse of power and a second for obstruction of Congress.
Part of the job of the House impeachment managers will be attempting to convince Senators they need to hear from fresh witnesses, including Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton. Bolton balked at addressing the House impeachment investigation last year but recently changed his tune and said he’ll testify if the Senate hands him a subpoena.
Since Trump’s removal from office by the Republican-controlled Senate looks all but impossible, the real drama of the situation now revolves around whether new witnesses like Bolton will be called to testify. The Democrats would need at least four Republican senators to join them to make that happen, but it’s not clear they’ve got the votes.
Democrats weren’t exactly jumping out of their chairs to invite Republican-favored witnesses to testify in the House hearings. Dems did grant GOP requests to call three fact witnesses during those proceedings, and one Constitutional scholar. But the first three probably would have been called by Democrats anyway.
In the next phase, if Democrats insist on calling witnesses, they’ll be met with calls from Republicans to bring forward Biden, Biden’s son Hunter, and an anonymous intelligence community whistleblower who got the impeachment ball rolling with a complaint about Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president
In addition to presenting the overall case, the House managers will field questions from the Senators, which, in an unusual quirk of impeachment rules, are supposed to be sent only in writing. The managers are also expected to spar with the lawyers Trump sends to defend him.
Veterans of the Clinton Senate impeachment trial publicly described the task of being an impeachment manager as legally complex and politically contentious. OneGOP Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio went so far as to call the process downright “ugly.”
“I really don’t want to give them any advice,” former GOP Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, an impeachment manager in the Clinton trial, recently told The New York Times. “But I guess I can say is that this is going to be a lot more work than you think.”
Pelosi selected a smaller team than the 13 House members sent by the GOP against former President Bill Clinton in 1999. One of those, James Rogan, then lost his seat after Clinton survived impeachment — to a leader of this year’s Democratic crew, Adam Schiff.
Schiff has a leg up, though: He’s done this before. In 2010, he led the House team dispatched to Senate during the most recent impeachment trial of a federal judge, Thomas Porteous, who Schiff helped successfully remove him from his judgeship.
Cover image: January 14, 2020 - Washington, DC, United States: U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaking at an event for the ten year anniversary of the Citizens United Decision. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)