House delivers impeachment articles to Senate

• House Democrats on Wednesday formally shifted the impeachment of President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops MORE to the Senate, delivering a pair of impeachment articles to the upper chamber and effectively launching the trial to determine whether the president will remain in office.

In a ceremonial procession, seven designated Democrats, known as impeachment managers, silently marched the two articles across the Capitol — a short promenade through the old House chamber, beneath the soaring Rotunda, past the legendary Ohio Clock and on to the Senate.

Accompanying the lawmakers were Paul Irving, the House sergeant-at-arms, and Cheryl Johnson, the House clerk. Lining the way was an army of reporters and photographers grappling for a glimpse of history behind red velvet-covered stanchions. 

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The exceedingly rare ritual — Trump is just the third U.S. president to be impeached — sets up the Senate to receive the two impeachment resolutions after weeks of delay. Passed by the House on Dec. 18, the articles charge the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in his dealings with Ukrainian leaders last year.

Behind Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFormer HUD Secretary: Congress 'should invest 0B in direct rental assistance' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House approves .5T green infrastructure plan | Rubio looks to defense bill to block offshore drilling, but some fear it creates a loophole | DC-area lawmakers push for analysis before federal agencies can be relocated House approves .5T green infrastructure plan MORE (R-Ky.), Senate GOP leaders are scheduled to accept the articles officially on Thursday at noon, and the formal trial in the august upper chamber is slated to begin “in earnest” on Tuesday, McConnell announced.

McConnell has not said how long it will run, but GOP senators are predicting it won’t be over before Trump is scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address on Feb. 4.

Democrats voted hours earlier to send the charges to the Senate and name the seven members — hand-picked by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse votes unanimously to extend deadline for coronavirus small-business loan program Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House approves .5T green infrastructure plan | Rubio looks to defense bill to block offshore drilling, but some fear it creates a loophole | DC-area lawmakers push for analysis before federal agencies can be relocated MORE (D-Calif.) — who will serve as impeachment managers for the trial, ending a weeks-long standoff between the two chambers.

“When the managers walk down the hallway, they cross a threshold of history,” Pelosi said, just before signing the resolution to transmit the articles to the Senate.

On the wall behind Pelosi hung a massive painting of George Washington, extending an empty hand. Rep. Juan VargasJuan C. VargasHispanic Caucus asks Trump to rescind invitation to Mexican president Activists, analysts demand Congress consider immigrants in coronavirus package Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins MORE (D-Calif.), who was among the dozens of Democratic lawmakers making a rare appearance in the audience of a press event, theorized what the nation’s first president might have said were he in the room: “Give me the pen; I’ll sign it,” Vargas quipped.

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Earlier in the day, Pelosi had predicted public sentiment would shift behind the Democrats’ impeachment effort and force the hand of GOP senators.

“We have great confidence in terms of impeaching the president and his removal,” Pelosi said in announcing her prosecutorial team.

The ongoing partisan trench lines were on display for the House vote, with 227 Democrats supporting the resolution and 192 Republicans opposing it. Only one lawmaker, Rep. Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonHouse approves statehood for DC in 232-180 vote House to pass sweeping police reform legislation From farmers to grocery store clerks, thank you to all of our food system MORE (D-Minn.), crossed party lines, highlighting the deep-rooted partisan divisions that have followed the impeachment process from its inception in September.

That discord is expected to carry on in the Senate, where McConnell and other GOP leaders have clashed for weeks with Democrats in both chambers over the rules governing the impeachment trial. Amid that fight, Pelosi took a political gamble and held on to the articles as leverage to pressure McConnell into allowing witnesses and other new evidence to be considered as part of the process.

The emergence of new evidence has heightened the pressure on Senate Republicans to allow new witnesses and evidence to be presented — a dynamic not overlooked by the Democrats leading the impeachment charge.

“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,” said Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats hit Trump for handling of Russian bounty allegations after White House briefing Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Democrats face tough questions with Bolton MORE (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee who will lead the team of Democratic prosecutors. 

The biggest wave of calls was triggered when former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonBolton says he would have personally briefed Trump on Russian bounties Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Mark Penn Judge temporarily blocks publication of Mary Trump book MORE announced a new willingness to testify about the Trump administration’s contacts with Ukrainian officials if subpoenaed by the GOP-controlled Senate, prompting calls for his testimony.

Democrats won a near-term victory on Wednesday, when McConnell — who has been cold to the idea of calling any witnesses — agreed to a rules package that leaves open the potential for new witnesses to appear. Anything less, Democrats have charged, would be a dereliction of the Senate’s duty.

“If the Senate doesn’t allow new evidence, then they’re conducting a coverup,” said Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler wins Democratic primary Voters must strongly reject the president's abuses by voting him out this November Clyburn threatens to end in-person coronavirus committee hearings if Republicans won't wear masks MORE (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and one of the seven impeachment managers. “In any trial — any trial — by definition you have the evidence.”

The other Democrats winning impeachment manager spots were Reps. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesReparations bill gains steam following death of George Floyd Karen Bass's star rises after leading police reform push The Hill's 12:30 Report: Supreme Court ruling marks big win for abortion rights groups MORE (N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsLiberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP Democrats seize on Florida pandemic response ahead of general election Progressive groups urge Biden to tap Warren as running mate MORE (Fla.), a member of both the Judiciary and Intelligence panels; and Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenFEC commissioner resigns, leaving agency without a quorum again OVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower says California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' | EPA won't defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards | Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change DOJ whistleblower: California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' 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.

The two lawmakers to fill out the roster — Reps. Sylvia GarciaSylvia GarciaHispanic Caucus asks Trump to rescind invitation to Mexican president 1 suspect dead, 1 arrested in disappearance of US soldier Trump administration ending support for 7 Texas testing sites as coronavirus cases spike MORE (D-Texas), and Jason CrowJason CrowHouse panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday Democrats expect Russian bounties to be addressed in defense bill MORE (D-Colo.) — were somewhat out of the blue. Both are freshmen, and Crow, a former Army Ranger, does not sit on any of the six committees with jurisdiction over impeachment.

Rather, some of the members named to high-profile roles were even surprised themselves.

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Garcia, when asked by reporters whether she was surprised to be picked, replied: “It was a pleasant surprise.”

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 a press conference in the Capitol. “The emphasis is on making the strongest possible case to protect and defend our Constitution.”

The managers’ involvement in the Senate trial comes with high stakes.

“It is their responsibility to present the very strong case for the President’s impeachment and removal,” Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday morning.