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2020-01-16 17:27:091 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
After holding up the articles of impeachment for nearly a month, the House finally voted to send the two articles of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by Donald Trump to the Senate. Additionally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the names of the seven members of the House who will serve as the impeachment managers in the Senate impeachment trial which is due to start next Tuesday.
The vote was mostly along partisan lines, 228 to 193, with Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) being the only Democrat to oppose. He also voted against both articles of impeachment last month.
Pelosi made a big ceremony of the signing on Wednesday evening, then joined a procession to hand-deliver the articles to the Senate. The House managers were also in the procession, along with the House clerk and sergeant-at-arms.
"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," the speaker said during the ceremony that took place across the House chamber in the Rayburn room. She was backed by the House managers and committee chairs.
House Clerk Cheryl Johnson carried the articles in the procession into Statuary Hall, past Pelosi's office, through the Capitol Rotunda, and past Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office. She then walked them into the Senate chamber. As the message that the articles were transmitted was read out loud, all senators turned to look, except the majority leader.
McConnell eventually stood to acknowledge the transfer of the articles and to discuss what will happen in the coming days, with the Senate officially receiving the House managers at noon on Thursday and Chief Justice John Roberts being escorted into the chamber at 2 PM to swear in all senators. The "trial will commence in earnest on Tuesday," he said.
The House managers who will prosecute the impeachment are House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Sen. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Sen. Jason Crow (D-CO), Sen. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Sen. Val Demings (D-FL), and Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). While Schiff was a federal prosecutor, Demings is a former police chief, several of the managers are attorneys, and Lofgren was a House Judiciary staff member during the Nixon impeachment and a member of the House during the Clinton impeachment.
"This is about the Constitution of the United States, and it's important for the president to know and [Russian President Vladimir Putin] to know that American voters — voters in America — should decide who our president it," said Pelosi, flanked by the managers and committee chairs at a press conference.
Before the resolution vote, Nadler said on the House floor that the speaker had "led our fight for a fair trial in the Senate," and added that "above all, a fair trial must include additional documents and relevant witnesses." He insisted that "the American people have common sense. They know that any trial that does not allow witnesses is not a trial. It is a coverup."
While Pelosi's news conference was going on, Trump referred to the impeachment as a "con job" in a tweet, and McConnell tended to business at hand, speaking on the Senate floor.
Trump told Republican lawmakers who were with him as he signed his trade deal with China, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), he'd understand if they had to leave to vote on the impeachment resolution. "They have a hoax going on over there, so let's take care of it," he said.
On the Senate floor, McConnell said 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."
Pelosi reiterated during her news conference the need to hear from witnesses at the Senate impeachment trial: "Time has been our friend in all of this because it has yielded incriminating evidence, more truth into the public domain."
She tweeted earlier about the newly-released documents from Lev Parnas that shows Trump had knowledge of Rudy Giuliani's digging for information in Ukraine.
"There can be no full and fair trial in the Senate if Leader McConnell blocks the Senate from hearing witnesses and obtaining documents President Trump is covering up," she wrote. "The president has fought tooth-and-nail to keep thousands of documents away from the public."
"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," she added.
"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 coverup," 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?"
McCarthy went after Pelosi in comments on the House floor, saying that she held the articles of impeachment "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."
An administration official made it clear they are counting on the trial taking only a few weeks, stating that the articles are very thin, allowing Trump's team to mount a defense.
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