Impeachment Set To Move To The Senate Next Week

Jan 15, 2020
Originally published on January 15, 2020 8:03 pm
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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: The House has passed H. Res. 798 (ph), a resolution appointing and authorizing managers for the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: The message will be received.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The articles have been passed, and after weeks of waiting and wrangling, House managers have been appointed. This sets the stage for the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, starting next Tuesday. Today House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named seven House managers, the prosecution team, who will make the case against the president during the trial. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler summarized the crux of their argument this way.

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JERRY NADLER: This trial is necessary because President Trump gravely abused the power of his office when he strong-armed a foreign government to announce investigations into his domestic political rival.

CORNISH: For more on this process, NPR's Tim Mak is in studio.

Welcome back.

TIM MAK, BYLINE: Hey there.

CORNISH: Let's start with the impeachment managers. What do we know about them?

MAK: So there's no shortage of Democratic lawmakers who would have wanted this role, which would be to make the case to the Senate. But ultimately, Pelosi chose just seven individuals to be the public face of this trial. And they stood with her as she made the announcement today. It was a diverse set of managers - women, people of color - to emphasize the varied backgrounds in her caucus. So you have some choices that are more obvious, like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler. And there's Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who is taking part in her third impeachment process. She was a staffer on the House Judiciary Committee during the Nixon impeachment proceedings. Pelosi explained her reasoning for her choices this way.

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NANCY PELOSI: The emphasis is on litigators. The emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom. The emphasis is making the strongest possible case to protect and defend our Constitution, to seek the truth for the American people.

MAK: So she also appointed Hakeem Jeffries, a former litigator in private practice and a top Pelosi lieutenant. There's Val Demings, the former chief of police for Orlando, and Sylvia Garcia, a former Houston municipal judge. One surprise, though, is the appointment of freshman Congressman Jason Crow. He's not on the House judiciary or intelligence committees. He is a lawyer, but he was also a former Army Ranger and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So he has a basis to talk about the national security elements of this trial.

CORNISH: Even as things are proceeding to the trial, new evidence was released by the House Intelligence Committee. What was it?

MAK: An associate of Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, provided a series of documents to the House Intelligence Committee. Now, that associate's name is Lev Parnas, and he's already been indicted in New York for alleged campaign finance violations. Parnas' documents seem to suggest that former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch may have been under surveillance by individuals linked to Giuliani. Also separately, in a note handwritten by Parnas, it appears he wrote down one of his tasks - quote, "get Zelenskiy to announce that the Biden case will be investigated." These documents back this notion that the president's allies were pressuring Ukraine to target the Bidens. And, of course, that's what this impeachment process has all been about.

CORNISH: What are the next steps?

MAK: So as early as Thursday morning, the impeachment managers will read the impeachment articles on the Senate floor. And later that day, we expect that the Senate will proceed to deal with the articles, summoning Chief Justice John Roberts. The chief justice will be sworn in by the longest-serving member of the Senate, known as the president pro tem of the Senate. That's Senator Chuck Grassley. And then he will, in turn, swear in the senators. That is, the chief justice will. The president will then be summoned and given time to respond to these allegations with a trial expected to begin next Tuesday. The president has said he believes that he will be fully exonerated by this process. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agrees with that, believing that this is a purely political process.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Tim Mak.

Thanks for explaining it.

MAK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.