January 16, 2020 08:16
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to approve the House members who Speaker Nancy Pelosi selected to prosecute the case against President Donald Trump and to send two articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial.
The Democratic-led House approved the resolution by a vote that was largely along party lines. Later Wednesday, the seven lawmakers who will act as prosecutors will hold an engrossment ceremony and then walk the articles of impeachment to the Senate side of the Capitol. The trial is expected to begin in earnest next week.
Pelosi named a diverse group of Democratic lawmakers to prosecute the case, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler. Also named as managers were Sylvia Garcia, Hakeem Jeffries, Zoe Lofgren, Jason Crow and Val Demings.
As Pelosi announced the impeachment managers at a morning news conference, Trump tweeted the impeachment was "another Con job by the Do Nothing Democrats."
The House impeached Trump last month, but Speaker Pelosi delayed submitting the articles of impeachment as House Democrats tried to get Senate leaders to agree to allow testimony from new witnesses during the trial.
That matter remains unresolved. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has resisted the idea of calling witnesses and said the decision would come later in the trial.
White House spokesperson Stephanie Grishan accused Pelosi of holding the articles of impeachment "in an egregious effort to garner political support."
"She failed and the naming of these managers does not change a single thing, Grisham said in a statement. "President Trump has done nothing wrong. He looks forward to having the due process rights in the Senate that Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats denied to him, and expects to be fully exonerated."
Pelosi said if the Senate launches the trial without witnesses, the American people will see it "as a pure political cover-up." "Leader McConnell and the president are afraid of more facts coming to light," she said. Preliminary trial steps are expected to take place this week, with the trial itself beginning Tuesday and likely lasting several weeks.
Trump is accused of abusing his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on the board of a gas company in Ukraine, as Trump withheld $391 million in aide that he later released. The president is also accused of subsequently obstructing a congressional probe into his actions.
Trump insists he did nothing wrong and has dismissed the impeachment effort as a "witch hunt." "While we're creating jobs and killing terrorists, Democrats in Congress are wasting America's time with demented hoaxes and crazy witch hunts," he told supporters at a Tuesday night campaign rally.
No matter what rules are in place for the Senate trial, Trump seems to be safe from the prospect of being convicted and removed from office. His Republican Party holds a 53 to 47 majority in the chamber, and conviction requires a two-thirds majority, meaning if all Democrats voted to convict then 20 Republicans would have to also vote that way for Trump to lose the presidency.
Democrats also released documents that include new details from Florida businessman Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, about Trump's pressure campaign on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials. The evidence includes a handwritten note from Parnas on stationery from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Vienna that says "get [Zelensky to announce] that the Biden case will be investigated."
Also disclosed was screenshot of a previously undisclosed letter Giuliani sent in May to the then-president-elect, introducing himself as Trump's "personal counsel" and requesting a meeting with Trump's "knowledge and consent."
Communications between Parnas, Giuliani and others about the firing of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich, who balked at Trump's demand for an investigation of the Bidens, were also released.
This is the third time in the country's 244-year history a U.S. president has been impeached and targeted for removal from office. Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 were both impeached by the House but acquitted in Senate trials. A fourth president, Richard Nixon, resigned in 1974 in the face of certain impeachment in a political corruption scandal.
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