Schiff huddles in Capitol with impeachment managers

The House Democrats soon to prosecute the impeachment case against President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Gov. Ron DeSantis more popular in Florida than Trump Sotomayor accuses Supreme Court of bias in favor of Trump administration MORE huddled in the Capitol on Sunday for eleventh-hour preparations ahead of the Senate trial, which opens Tuesday.

The rare Sunday meeting, which took place in the office of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRussian interference reports rock Capitol Hill Hillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter split on Bloomberg video | Sanders briefed on Russian efforts to help campaign | Barr to meet with Republicans ahead of surveillance fight Pelosi blasts Trump's 'dangerous' pick for intelligence chief MORE (D-Calif.), was led by Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffPelosi blasts Trump's 'dangerous' pick for intelligence chief Sanders says he was briefed on Russian effort to help campaign Trump: Democrats 'trying to start a rumor' about 2020 Russian interference MORE (D-Calif.), the head prosecutor in the coming trial to decide Trump's fate.

Other attendees included at least four of the seven Democratic impeachment managers — Reps. 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.), 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.), 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 (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 (Colo.) — as well as a handful of senior aides and attorneys on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.

All were acutely tight-lipped about the details surrounding their last-minute strategy session.

"I'm really not going to comment except to say we're just doing our trial preparation," Schiff said as he left the gathering. The process, he added, is "coming along fine."

It appeared that the two additional Democratic managers — Reps. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTrump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify Nadler demands answers from Barr on 'new channel' for receiving Ukraine info from Giuliani Trump predicts Ocasio-Cortez will launch primary bid against Schumer MORE (N.Y.) and 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.) — did not participate in the noon meeting. Pelosi, too, was not in attendance.

After nearly a month of delay, Pelosi tapped her team of Democratic impeachment managers last Wednesday — the same day the House passed two impeachment resolutions on the chamber floor — and the seven lawmakers marched the articles across the Capitol to the Senate just hours later.

It remains unclear how the roles and responsibilities will be divvied up between the seven managers when the Senate trial launches Tuesday. Schiff on Sunday declined to comment on the issue.

As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff was a natural fit to lead the trial phase of the impeachment proceedings. It was his committee that spearheaded the Democrats' impeachment investigation, which centered on allegations that Trump had withheld $391 million in foreign aid to Ukraine in an effort to coerce that country's leaders to investigate the president's political opponents.

Trump and his Republican allies have argued that the administration was simply fighting foreign corruption generally without targeting anyone specifically. The pressure campaign was designed to protect U.S. taxpayer dollars, they say, not damage Trump's opponents.

But Democrats — armed with testimony from 17 diplomats and national security officials, among other evidence — accused Trump of using his office illegally for personal political benefit.

Last month, Democrats passed their two articles, charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. In doing so, Trump became just the third president in the country's history to be impeached.

On Saturday, House Democrats unveiled a lengthy trial brief, outlining the arguments they intend to make as the Senate trial gets under way this week.

The document includes several new bits of evidence that have emerged since the Dec. 18 House impeachment votes. But the central thrust of the Democrats' allegations remains unchanged heading into the trial: Trump, they say, abused his office and threatened national security in pressing a foreign leader to interfere in a domestic election and then covered it up as Democrats sought to investigate. That, Democrats contend, merits his removal.

The White House has a decidedly different view. And shortly after the Democrats released their trial brief Saturday evening, two lawyers representing Trump offered a short response to the specific impeachment charges.

Among other arguments, Trump's lawyers accuse Democrats of launching a politically motivated attack on the president designed to both overturn his 2016 victory and undermine his prospects for reelection this year.

The administration also maintains that abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are not crimes, let alone offenses meriting impeachment.

"The articles of impeachment violate the Constitution," said Trump's lawyers, Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowWhat the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber Senate votes to acquit Trump on articles of impeachment Roberts emerges unscathed from bitter impeachment trial MORE and Pat Cipollone. "They are defective in their entirety."

Democrats were quick to fire back, attacking the White House for pushing a "dangerous" argument that, they contend, disregards Congress's constitutional responsibility to be a check on presidential powers.

"If the president were correct, it would represent a fundamental alteration in the American constitutional order," said a Democratic aide working on impeachment.

Schiff and his team of impeachment managers are slated to meet in the Capitol again on Monday, when they're expected to perform a walk-through of the Senate chamber ahead of Tuesday's trial.