WASHINGTON - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday named seven Democratic lawmakers to prosecute the impeachment case against President Donald Trump at a trial in the U.S. Senate.
The House voted 228-193 to approve the impeachment managers and to officially transmit the two articles of impeachment to the Senate. The historic trial is set to open early next week and could last up to five weeks, or roughly as long as the 1999 impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton, the last American president to be impeached.
A two-thirds vote in the Senate is needed to convict and remove Trump from office. With Republicans controlling the chamber, the president is widely expected to survive the proceeding.
Trump became the third American president history to be impeached when the House of Representatives charged him on December 18 with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Who are the House impeachment managers?
The seven “House impeachment managers” picked by Pelosi will serve as prosecutors during the trial. They are a relatively small and diverse group. All have law degrees. Four have courtroom experience. Three are members of minorities. Two are freshmen who were part of the “blue wave” that swept House Democrats back to power during the 2018 midterm elections and were vocal advocates of impeachment.
The seven managers are:
— Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a former federal prosecutor who led the impeachment inquiry.
— Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
— Zoe Lofgren, chairwoman of the House Administration Committee.
— Hakeem Jeffries, member of the House Judiciary Committee and chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
— Val Demings, member of House Intelligence and Judiciary committees and former Orlando police chief.
— Jason Crow, first-term House member from Colorado and a former U.S. Army Ranger.
— Sylvia Garcia, first-term House member from Texas and a former judge.
What role do they play?
The House impeachment managers will prosecute the case. They will present opening statements and closing arguments and interview and cross-examine witnesses if they are called. Pelosi said she selected the group to make the strongest possible case against Trump. “The emphasis is on litigators, the emphasis is on comfort in the courtroom," she said. While Pelosi did not name a “chief House manager,” Schiff is likely to step into that role.
What are the charges against Trump?
The charges against Trump are contained in the two articles of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives last month. The first article alleges that Trump abused the power of his office by pressing Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son, Hunter Biden, and a baseless theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The second article accuses Trump of obstructing the congressional impeachment inquiry by ordering his administration not to testify or cooperate with investigators.
Pelosi said the case against Trump has grown stronger in the weeks since the impeachment vote, as “more incriminating evidence” has emerged, including a trove of documents recently received by House Democrats.
Who will be defending Trump?
White House counsel Pat Cipollone will lead Trump’s defense team, assisted by two deputies as well as Jay Sekulow, a private lawyer who represented Trump in the Mueller investigation into Russian election meddling.
Cipollone, White House counsel since late 2018, has led the White House attack on the impeachment proceedings, calling the move unconstitutional and rejecting congressional subpoenas on behalf of the administration.
Sekulow is a conservative lawyer in private practice who serves as chief counsel to the American Center for Law and Justice and hosts his own radio show.
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who frequently defends Trump on television, has said the White House is considering adding him to the defense team.
Will any witnesses testify?
It is not clear if the trial will feature any witnesses, though support for allowing witness testimony has grown among senators. If the Senate agrees to allow witnesses, they’ll likely provide videotaped depositions, portions of which will be shown to the Senate, in the same manner as the Clinton trial.
Democrats have asked for four witnesses, including former national security adviser John Bolton, to testify. Republicans have their own list of potential witnesses, including Hunter Biden, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company that Trump wanted investigated.
The question of witnesses held up the opening of a Senate trial for nearly four weeks as Pelosi refused to send the articles of impeachment to the upper chamber unless the Republicans agreed to allow witnesses during the trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused, saying the Senate would decide the question once the trial opened and opening statements were made.
Who will preside over the proceeding?
In keeping with a constitutional mandate, Chief Justice John Roberts will serve as presiding judge. His role will be largely ceremonial, however, as Senate rules allow a simple majority to vote on procedures and overrule the chief justice.