It’s the other 2020 horse race — who will make it on House Democrats' star legal team to prosecute the case against President Trump, presuming the newly adopted articles of impeachment go to a Senate trial?
The timetable for all of this remains up in the air, with Congress on recess and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sitting on the two articles alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in a controversial bid to extract favorable terms from the Senate.
But bipartisan sources told Fox News this week that several names have been floated to be Democrats' impeachment "managers" if and when the two chambers can resolve what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now calls an impasse.
Likely candidates include House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who led much of the impeachment inquiry out of his committee with dramatic hearings to develop the case against the president; House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., whose panel drafted the articles of impeachment; House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.; and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a constitutional lawyer.
Other possible candidates include Democrats who were more outspoken during the impeachment hearings like Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif. Sources told Fox News that other names being floated include Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.; Val Demings, D-Fla., who served as the first female police chief in Orlando; and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who was involved in the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton and was a staffer during the congressional investigation into former President Richard Nixon.
During Clinton’s impeachment in 1999, there were 13 House impeachment managers. A source familiar with the planning told Fox News that Pelosi is expected to appoint fewer than that.
Meanwhile, it is unclear who could serve on President Trump’s defense team. According to a White House official familiar with impeachment planning, there has not yet been a decision on whether White House Counsel Pat Cipollone would run the defense of the president. Congressional sources have also suggested that top House Republicans could aid in the president’s defense.
Still, Cipollone and White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland were spotted Friday on Capitol Hill doing a walk-through for a potential Senate trial.
But Pelosi, D-Calif., has not yet transmitted the articles of impeachment to the Senate, indicating she wants reassurances that the Senate would hold a fair trial, likely involving certain Democrat-sought witnesses, before sending over the charges.
Ueland on Friday took a swipe at Pelosi for the process delay. “We believe that if this issue was so important to the speaker and the House Democrats ... it is beyond passing strange that now they’re sitting on these articles here during the Christmas holidays. Either it’s important and urgent or it’s not,” he said.
McConnell, R-Ky., speaking on the floor Thursday, seemed baffled at Pelosi’s move to withhold the articles, arguing that the House speaker doesn’t have the leverage she thinks she does.
“Some House Democrats imply they are withholding the articles for some kind of leverage,” McConnell said. “I admit, I’m not sure what leverage there is in refraining from sending us something we do not want. Alas, if they can figure that out, they can explain.”
He added: “Following weeks of pronouncements about the urgency of the situation, urgent situation, the prosecutors appear to have developed cold feet. Democrat prosecution seems to have gotten cold feet and be unsure about whether they want to proceed to the trial. Like I said, a very unusual spectacle, and in my view, certainly not one that reflects well on the House.”
Despite McConnell saying the Senate doesn’t actually “want” to receive the articles, President Trump has called for an immediate trial and is evidently looking for his day in court to be acquitted for the alleged crimes surrounding his efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch politically advantageous investigations. The request came after the administration had withheld millions in military aid to Ukraine, though Trump has denied any quid pro quo was at play.
“I got Impeached last night without one Republican vote being cast with the Do Nothing Dems on their continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “Now the Do Nothing Party want to Do Nothing with the Articles & not deliver them to the Senate, but it’s the Senate’s call!”
Fox News' John Roberts and Sally Persons contributed to this report.