House leaders march Trump impeachment articles to Senate for trial
search

House leaders march Trump impeachment articles to Senate for trial

Chamber to be transformed into court to hear case against president for only third time in nation’s history, but swift acquittal expected even as new details emerge

House Sergeant of Arms Paul Irving, Clerk of the House of Representatives Cheryl Johnson, House impeachment managers Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) carry the articles of impeachment through Statuary Hall as they pass from the House to the Senate at the U.S. Capitol on January 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.  (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
House Sergeant of Arms Paul Irving, Clerk of the House of Representatives Cheryl Johnson, House impeachment managers Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) carry the articles of impeachment through Statuary Hall as they pass from the House to the Senate at the U.S. Capitol on January 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

WASHINGTON — In a dramatic procession across the US Capitol, House Democrats carried the formal articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate late Wednesday, setting the stage for only the third trial to remove a president in American history.

Trump complained anew it was all a “hoax,” even as fresh details emerged about his efforts in Ukraine.

The ceremonial pomp and protocol by the lawmakers prosecuting the case against Trump moved the impeachment out of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic-run House to the Republican-majority Senate, where the president’s team is mounting a defense aiming for swift acquittal.

“Today we will make history,” Pelosi said as she signed the documents, using multiple pens to hand out and mark the moment. “This president will be held accountable.”

Photographers take photos before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., signs the resolution, on desk, to transmit the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate for trial on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Moments later the prosecutors walked solemnly through the stately hall, filing into the Senate back row as the Clerk of the House announced the arrival: “The House has passed House Resolution 798, a resolution appointing and authorizing managers of the impeachment trail of Donald John Trump, President of United States.”

The Senate will transform itself into an impeachment court at noon Thursday. The Constitution calls for Chief Justice John Roberts to preside at the trial, administering the oath to senators who will serve as jurors and swear to deliver “impartial justice.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to have the Senate “rise above the petty factionalism” and “factional fervor and serve the long-term, best interests of our nation.” He called it “a difficult time for our country.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell exit a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony at the US Capitol on January 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

Technically, the House was simply notifying the Senate of its delivery of the articles, with a more formal presentation Thursday. Opening arguments are to begin next Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Wednesday’s mostly partly-line House vote to deliver the charges was 228-193, reflecting the deeply divided nation at the start of this presidential election year. It came one month after the House impeached Trump alleging he abused his presidential power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, using military aid to the country as leverage. Trump was also charged with obstructing Congress’ ensuing probe.

“We are here today to cross a very important threshold in American history,” Pelosi said, addressing the House before the vote.

“This is what an impeachment is about,” she said earlier, announcing the prosecution team. “The president violated his oath of office, undermined our national security, jeopardized the integrity of our elections.”

In this image from video, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks as the House of Representatives debates the impeachment managers resolution at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (House Television via AP)

Trump’s political campaign dismissed it all as “just a failed attempt to politically damage President Trump leading up to his reelection.”

The top Republican in the House, Kevin McCarthy of California, said Americans will look back on this “sad saga” that tried to remove the president from office with the “weakest case.”

The president’s team expects acquittal with a Senate trial lasting no more than two weeks, according to senior administration officials unauthorized to discuss the matter and granted anonymity.

That’s far shorter than the last presidential impeachment trail, of Bill Clinton, in 1999, or the first one, of Andrew Johnson, in 1868.

As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sets the rules for the trial, Trump has given mixed messages about whether he prefers lengthy or swift proceeding, and senators are under pressure with the emerging new evidence to call more witnesses for testimony.

The seven-member prosecution team will be led by the chairmen of the House impeachment proceedings, Reps. Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee and Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee, two of Pelosi’s top lieutenants.

Ahead of Wednesday’s session, Schiff released new records from Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, about the Ukraine strategy, including an exchange with another man about surveilling later-fired Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch.

Schiff said the new evidence should bring more pressure on McConnell, who is reluctant to allow witnesses to testify and also prefers swift acquittal.

“If McConnell makes this the first trial in history without witnesses, it will be exposed for what it is and that is an effort to cover up for the president,” Schiff said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a news conference to announce impeachment managers on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. With Pelosi from left are Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. and Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo. (AP/Matt Rourke)

McConnell opened the Senate dismissing what he called a rushed impeachment that is more about the politics of Democrats who don’t like Trump than the charges against him.

“This isn’t really about Ukraine policy or military money,” McConnell said. “This has been naked partisanship all along.”

Trump’s trial will be only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, and it comes against the backdrop of a politically divided nation in an election year.

The managers are a diverse group with legal, law enforcement and military experience, including Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Sylvia Garcia of Texas, Val Demings of Florida, Jason Crow of Colorado and Zoe Lofgren of California.

Two are freshmen lawmakers — Crow a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Garcia a former judge in Houston. Demings is the former police chief of Orlando and Jeffries is a lawyer and member of party leadership. Lofgren has the rare credential of having worked on the congressional staff investigation of then-President Richard Nixon’s impeachment — he resigned before the full House voted on the charges — and then being an elected lawmaker during Bill Clinton’s.

All but one Democrat, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, voted to transmit the articles. All Republicans voted against. One former Republican-turned-independent, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, joined Democrats.

US President Donald Trump stands for the national anthem before the beginning of the NCAA College Football Playoff National Championship game between LSU and Clemson, in New Orleans, January 13, 2020. (Evan Vucci/AP)

McConnell faces competing pressures from his party for more witnesses, from centrists who are siding with Democrats on the need to hear testimony and conservatives mounting Trump’s defense.

Senate Republicans signaled they would reject the idea of simply voting to dismiss the articles of impeachment against Trump, as Trump himself has suggested. McConnell agreed he does not have the votes to do that.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is leading an effort among some Republicans, including Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Lamar Alexander of Tennesse e to consider Senate witnesses. She told reporters she was satisfied the rules will allow votes on that.

Romney said he wants to hear from John Bolton, the former national security adviser at the White House, who others have said raised alarms about the alternative foreign policy toward Ukraine being run by Giuliani.

Those four senators could force votes. Republicans control the chamber, 53-47, and are all but certain to acquit Trump. But it takes just 51 votes during the trial to approve rules or call witnesses. It also would take only 51 senators to vote to dismiss the charges against Trump.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and other Republicans want to subpoena Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on the board of a gas company in Ukraine, Burisma, while his father was vice president.

McConnell prefers to model Trump’s trial partly on the process used for Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999. It, too, contained motions for dismissal or calling new witnesses.

McConnell is hesitant to call new witnesses who would prolong the trial and put vulnerable senators who are up for reelection in 2020 in a bind with tough choices. At the same time, he wants to give those same senators ample room to show voters they are listening.

read more:
comments