House delivers impeachment articles to Senate

• House Democrats on Wednesday formally shifted the impeachment of President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far 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 McConnellRepublicans give Barr vote of confidence Democrats block two Senate abortion bills VA could lead way for nation on lower drug pricing 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 PelosiOcasio-Cortez: Trump would 'never' say to her face some of the shots he takes at her on Twitter Oversight Committee room to be dedicated to late Rep. Elijah Cummings Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response 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. VargasHouse delivers impeachment articles to Senate Omar calls on US to investigate Turkey over possible war crimes in Syria Lawmakers visit African migrants at US-Mexico border 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 PetersonSenate votes to acquit Trump on articles of impeachment Biden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to lay out impeachment case to senators next week 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 SchiffOcasio-Cortez: Trump would 'never' say to her face some of the shots he takes at her on Twitter John Ratcliffe back under consideration by Trump for top intel job Trump says he wants 'no help from any country' in 2020 election 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 BoltonSchumer on Trump intel shakeup: 'Disgrace,' 'closer to a banana republic' Trump directly sought to block publication of Bolton's book: WaPo 'Parasite' studio fires back after Trump criticism: 'He can't read' 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 NadlerThis week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Congress set for clash over surveillance reforms Trump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify 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 JeffriesLawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts On The Money: Fed chief warns Congress on deficits | Trump blames Powell after Dow dips slightly | Trump withdraws nomination of former US attorney for Treasury post Jeffries: Trump budget is a 'declaration of war on the American dream' MORE (N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsTrump set to confront his impeachment foes Live coverage: Senators query impeachment managers, Trump defense Trump allies throw jabs at Bolton over book's claims MORE (Fla.), a member of both the Judiciary and Intelligence panels; and Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenTop Democrats demand answers on DHS plans to deploy elite agents to sanctuary cities Gillibrand proposes creating new digital privacy agency GOP senator proposes overhauling federal agency to confront Big Tech 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 GarciaBiden earns endorsement from former House impeachment manager Trump set to confront his impeachment foes Live coverage: Senators query impeachment managers, Trump defense MORE (D-Texas), and Jason CrowJason CrowTrump set to confront his impeachment foes Democratic impeachment manager shares quote from "Harry Potter's" Dumbledore during trial Impeachment manager dismisses concerns Schiff alienated key Republican votes: 'This isn't about any one person' 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.