By Brooke Singman
Published January 15, 2020
“This is about the Constitution of the United States,” Pelosi said, as she presented the Democrats' legal team and noted that she put an emphasis on "litigators" in assembling them.
The managers include House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who will be the lead manager and who directed much of the impeachment inquiry out of his committee, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., whose panel drafted the articles of impeachment.
Pelosi also tapped House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.; Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo.; Val Demings, D-Fla.; Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas; and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.
Many of the managers were chosen because of their backgrounds: Lofgren has been involved in three presidential impeachment proceedings: as a Judiciary Committee staffer during former President Richard Nixon's and a committee member during former President Bill Clinton's impeachment, and now as a manager.
During Clinton’s impeachment in 1999, there were 13 House impeachment managers. Pelosi chose seven for Trump's trial.
Announcing the managers, Pelosi argued the charges against the president will be a stain on his legacy, dramatically referring to an "impeachment that will last forever." She said the House on Wednesday will pass a resolution to appropriate funds for the trial, and transmit the articles -- abuse of power and obstruction of Congress -- to the Senate.
"This is a very serious matter and we take it to heart in a really solemn way," Pelosi said. "It's about the Constitution, it's about the republic if we can keep it and [senators] shouldn’t be frivolous with the Constitution of the United States even though the president of the United States has."
She added: "The president is not above the law. He will be held accountable. He already has been held accountable. He has been impeached and you can never erase that."
Trump hit back in a tweet after the announcement: “Here we go again, another Con Job by the Do Nothing Democrats. All of this work was supposed to be done by the House, not the Senate!”
Pelosi defended her decision to delay sending the articles to the upper chamber for an entire month -- despite taunts from Republicans that it accomplished nothing -- saying that "time has been our friend in all of this because it has yielded incriminating evidence."
Pelosi, in holding back the impeachment articles for weeks, had sought to pressure Republicans to commit to allowing new testimony and documents. Some Republicans are open to this, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants to decide such matters after the process has started.
At the heart of the case is Trump's effort to convince Ukraine to launch investigations of Democrats, while his administration withheld military aid. Trump denies wrongdoing, while Democrats allege he abused the power of his office.
Meanwhile, a White House official told Fox News on Tuesday that the president’s legal defense team in the looming impeachment trial would be led by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. The official said that Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow would also serve on the president’s defense, as well as Cipollone deputies Michael Purpura and Patrick Philbin.
The official told Fox News that other attorneys could cycle through or be on the floor in a support capacity, but that those details and types of decisions will be made by the president if and when he deems necessary.
After several days of procedural steps later this week, the Senate is poised to launch into the heart of the impeachment trial as early as next Tuesday. McConnell on Tuesday shot down the idea being floated by the president earlier this week of bypassing a trial and dismissing the articles altogether. GOP senators argue they'd rather pursue acquittal.