Pelosi names impeachment managers

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor Pelosi, Democrats using coronavirus to push for big tax cuts for blue state residents US watchdog vows 'aggressive' oversight after intel official fired MORE (D-Calif.) tapped seven impeachment managers on Wednesday, ending weeks of speculation over who in the House will step into the political spotlight and make the case before the Senate to remove President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE from office.

Some of the newly named managers were considered shoo-ins, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump defends firing of intel watchdog, calling him a 'disgrace' Democrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog Trump fires intelligence community watchdog who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint MORE (D-Calif.), whom Pelosi named as lead manager, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse Judiciary Committee postpones hearing with Barr amid coronavirus outbreak House Democrats plead with key committee chairman to allow remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Pelosi rejects calls to shutter Capitol: 'We are the captains of this ship' MORE (D-N.Y.). Both lawmakers had leading roles during the months-long impeachment inquiry last fall into Trump’s contacts with Ukraine.

Others picked for the high-profile role were also widely considered to be leading candidates, including Democratic Reps. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesPelosi says House will review Senate coronavirus stimulus package Pelosi says House will draft its own coronavirus funding bill Senate closes in on trillion-dollar coronavirus stimulus bill MORE (N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsBiden associates reach out to Holder about VP search Biden confirms he's considering Whitmer for VP Biden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much MORE (Fla.), a member of both the Judiciary and Intelligence panels; and Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenHillicon Valley: FCC chief proposes 0M telehealth program | Twitter takes down posts promoting anti-malaria drugs for coronavirus| Whole Foods workers plan Tuesday strike Trump says election proposals in coronavirus stimulus bill would hurt Republican chances Democratic lawmakers demand government stop deporting unaccompanied children MORE (Calif.), a senior member of the Judiciary panel and the only member of Congress to have participated in both the Nixon and Clinton impeachments.

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The final two picks — Reps. Sylvia GarciaSylvia GarciaTexas House Dems ask governor to issue stay-at-home order The Hill's 12:30 Report: House to vote on .2T stimulus after mad dash to Washington Overnight Energy: Iconic national parks close over coronavirus concerns | New EPA order limits telework post-pandemic | Lawmakers urge help for oil and gas workers MORE (Texas), and Jason CrowJason CrowPentagon gets heat over protecting service members from coronavirus Here are the lawmakers who have self-quarantined as a precaution Trump set to confront his impeachment foes MORE (Colo.) — were something of a surprise. Both are freshmen, and Crow, a former Army Ranger, does not sit on any of the six committees with jurisdiction over impeachment. 

In making the announcement, Pelosi touted the legal bona fides of her picks, saying their experience before entering Congress was an outsize factor in her decisionmaking. 

"The emphasis is on litigators; the emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom,” Pelosi said during the press conference. “The emphasis is on making the strongest possible case to protect and defend our Constitution.”

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The announcement comes just hours before the House will vote on a resolution to send the two articles of impeachment to the Senate. Passed by the House on Dec. 18, the articles accuse Trump of abusing his power in his dealings with Ukraine, then obstructing Congress as Democrats sought to investigate the episode. 

Wednesday’s vote to transmit the articles, scheduled for the afternoon, launches a series of procedures leading up to the Senate trial, which is expected to begin formally as early as next Tuesday. 

At 5 p.m., Pelosi will formalize the resolution with an engrossment ceremony in an august, wood-paneled room adjacent to the House chamber. Immediately afterward, the House managers will walk the articles physically across the Capitol to the Senate, where GOP leaders will be waiting to accept them. 

The process ends a weeks-long standoff between the two chambers, as Pelosi had withheld the articles in an effort to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor Progressive group knocks McConnell for talking judicial picks during coronavirus Overnight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill MORE (R-Ky.) to agree to open the trial phase to new evidence and witness testimony — an undertaking McConnell has rejected as superfluous. 

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Since the House vote, however, new evidence has emerged linking Trump directly to the campaign, spearheaded by his personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows preview: As coronavirus spreads in the U.S., officials from each sector of public life weigh in Biden campaign blasts Twitter for refusing to sanction retaliatory 'hoax' Trump ad Google to spend .5 million in fight against coronavirus misinformation MORE, to press Ukrainian leaders to find dirt on the president’s political rivals. In another twist, John BoltonJohn BoltonChina sees chance to expand global influence amid pandemic Trump ignores science at our peril Bolton defends decision to shutter NSC pandemic office MORE — Trump’s former national security adviser who had refused to testify in the House investigation — has offered to do so if subpoenaed by the Senate. 

The day before the vote, Democrats on the Intelligence panel also released new information on Lev Parnas, a close associate of Giuliani’s.

Parnas, who is seeking immunity for his testimony, turned over text messages, notes and other communications he had with Giuliani and other Trump officials, which further highlighted efforts to push out former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchAmerica's diplomats deserve our respect House panel says key witness isn't cooperating in probe into Yovanovitch surveillance President Trump's assault on checks and balances: Five acts in four weeks MORE and dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSome Sanders top allies have urged him to withdraw from 2020 race: report Sunday shows preview: As coronavirus spreads in the U.S., officials from each sector of public life weigh in Trump defends firing of intel watchdog, calling him a 'disgrace' MORE and his son. 

Democrats have been quick to highlight those developments. And Pelosi noted that her gamble to delay sending the two articles of impeachment to the Senate to demand witnesses in the trial has proved beneficial, ticking through the new information that has come to light during that time.

"Time has been our friend in all of this," she said. “This further evidence insists … that there be witnesses and that we see documentation.”

Schiff and Nadler also defended their strategy: both the decision to vote on the articles before Christmas and the subsequent judgment to withhold them from the Senate for a month. 

"It's been very effective," Schiff said. "And as you've seen, additional evidence continues to come to light that not only has bolstered an already overwhelming case, but has also put additional pressure ... on the Senate to conduct a fair trial."  

Nadler piled on, saying Democrats acted with some urgency last year to deter Trump from interfering in his reelection contest in November. 

"Some people said: 'Well, let the election take care of it.’ He's trying to cheat in that election,” Nadler said. “So it is essential that we bring this impeachment to stop the president ... from rigging the next election."

— Updated at 11:38 a.m.