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House delivers impeachment articles to Senate

• House Democrats on Wednesday formally shifted the impeachment of President TrumpDonald TrumpFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media 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 McConnellBoebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report Urgency mounts for new voting rights bill Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster 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 PelosiMissouri woman seen with Pelosi sign charged in connection with Capitol riots Boebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report Revising the pardon power — let the Speaker and Congress have voices 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 for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs Hispanic Caucus asks Trump to rescind invitation to Mexican president 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 PetersonOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump admin to sell oil leases at Arctic wildlife refuge before Biden takes office |Trump administration approves controversial oil testing method in Gulf of Mexico | Rep. Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel Rep. David Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel 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 SchiffSunday shows preview: Washington prepares for an inauguration and impeachment; coronavirus surges across the US What our kids should know after the Capitol Hill riot  Pelosi names 9 impeachment managers 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 BoltonAfter insurrection: The national security implications McConnell won't reprise role as chief Trump defender Cyber czar to draw on new powers from defense bill 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 NadlerPelosi names 9 impeachment managers Republicans gauge support for Trump impeachment Clyburn blasts DeVos and Chao for 'running away' from 25th Amendment fight 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 JeffriesUS Chamber of Commerce to stop supporting some lawmakers following the Capitol riots Lawmakers mount pressure on Trump to leave office Sunday shows - Capitol siege, Trump future dominate MORE (N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsSeven Senate races to watch in 2022 Demings on Florida: 'We're excited about what we're seeing' but 'taking absolutely nothing for granted' Why it's time for a majority female Cabinet MORE (Fla.), a member of both the Judiciary and Intelligence panels; and Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenLawmakers briefed on 'horrifying,' 'chilling' security threats ahead of inauguration Efforts to secure elections likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress Capitol Police chief announces resignation after pro-Trump riots 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 GarciaHouse Judiciary Democrats ask Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump Lawmakers share New Year's messages: 'Cheers to brighter days ahead' Facebook-backed cryptocurrency Libra changes names MORE (D-Texas), and Jason CrowJason CrowSixth House Republican backs Trump impeachment Democrat: GOP colleagues say they're 'afraid for their lives' if they vote to impeach Trump Man photographed wearing 'Camp Auschwitz' shirt inside Capitol arrested 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.