House sends impeachment articles to Senate, Pelosi names trial managers

The "trial will commence in earnest on Tuesday," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

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By Jane C. Timm and Rebecca Shabad

WASHINGTON — 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, which is set to start next week.

The measure passed 228-193, 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 the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, were signed by Pelosi at a historic engrossment ceremony Wednesday evening and then hand-delivered to the Senate in a procession through the Capitol that was led by the House clerk and sergeant-at-arms and included the House managers.

"Today, we will make history, when we walk down — when the managers walk down the hall, [they'll] cross a threshold in history, delivering articles of impeachment against the president of the United States for abuse of power and obstruction of the House," Pelosi said during the ceremony in the Rayburn room across from the House chamber.

Pelosi was flanked at the ceremony by the House managers, who will serve as the prosecution in the Senate trial, and committee chairs who conducted the impeachment inquiry. The speaker signed the articles using several pens, which she then distributed to the managers and committee heads as keepsakes.

The seven managers then followed House Clerk Cheryl Johnson, who carried the articles, into Statuary Hall, past Pelosi's leadership office, through the Capitol Rotunda and then past Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office. The House clerk then took the articles into the Senate chamber.

As the message that the articles were transmitted was read aloud, all the senators in the room turned around to look except McConnell, who faced forward to the dais, not turning around once to see the scene unfold behind him.

Soon after, McConnell rose to acknowledge the submission of articles and lay some ground rules for the next few days. He said that the Senate will officially receive the House managers at noon ET on Thursday, when they will present and exhibit the articles to the upper chamber. At 2 p.m. Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial, will be escorted into the Senate chamber and swear in all senators.

The "trial will commence in earnest on Tuesday," McConnell said. 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.

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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, referring to the Russian president at a press conference with the managers.

Nadler said on the floor ahead of the resolution vote that Pelosi had "led our fight for a fair trial in the Senate."

"Above all, a fair trial must include additional documents and relevant witnesses," he said. "The American people have common sense. They know that any trial that does not allow witnesses is not a trial. It is a cover-up.

During Pelosi's news conference, Trump called the impeachment a "Con Job" in a tweet, and McConnell spoke on the Senate floor.

Trump told GOP lawmakers who attended the signing of his trade deal with China, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the House 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.

McConnell said on the floor that impeachment "undoes the people's decision in a national election. 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."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is surrounded by the House impeachment managers and committee chairs as she signs the two articles of impeachment of before sending them over to the Senate on Wednesday. Leah Millis / Reuters

At her news conference, 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," Pelosi said.

Earlier, she spoke 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.

House Managers walk to the US Senate to deliver the Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill on Jan. 15, 2020.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

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?"

Pelosi held the articles in the House for weeks, seeking to negotiate an agreement for witness testimony in the Senate, but McConnell rebuffed her efforts to negotiate a deal.

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.

McCarthy, however, said on the House floor Wednesday that Pelosi had held the articles "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 this week that he did not receive a fair "trial" in the House of Representatives. Impeachment trials are only held in the Senate, however, 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 the Senate was not expected to hear from witnesses, but if it does, 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 of 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.

Shannon Pettypiece and Julie Tsirkin contributed.