The delaying tactics ended today as the House voted to send the articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate. The impeachment will now move to the majority-Republican upper house for the trial of President Trump.
The vote to refer the articles and appoint impeachment managers fell mostly along party lines. The only defector in the 228-193 vote was Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) who voted with Republicans against the measure.
The impeachment managers who will present the case against the president are headed by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Cal.), head of the intelligence committee, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), head of the judiciary committee. Other members of the prosecutorial team include Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), Rep. Jason Crow (D-Col.), and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas).
There was speculation that Pelosi would reach out to former Republican Rep. Justin Amash to join the impeachment team, but CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that Amash said that the Democrats never reached out to him. With Amash considering a presidential run, it makes sense that Pelosi would not want to give him a platform to gain national notoriety.
The first step for the Senate will be to pass an agreement defining the rules of the impeachment trial. This process will start tomorrow, January 16. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that he would like the trial to follow the model set in the impeachment of President Clinton in 1999.
In the Clinton trial, witnesses were deposed behind closed doors in video-recorded sessions. Following the witnesses, each side presented closing arguments and the Senate deliberated behind closed doors. Senators were not allowed to speak during the testimony but were each given 15 minutes during the deliberations. Votes were held after deliberations concluded.
The chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the impeachment trial. For Mr. Trump, that means that John Roberts is in charge of the proceedings. This induces a measure of uncertainty since McConnell cannot drive events as he normally does in the Senate. No one knows how active Roberts will be in his role. In the Clinton trial, William Rehnquist was largely a fly on the wall.
As I reported yesterday, Republicans now seem to lack the votes to dismiss the impeachment outright so the trial is likely to last for several weeks as witnesses present sworn testimony.
The prospect of witnesses leads to speculation that former National Security Advisor John Bolton will be invited to testify. This could set up another showdown since Bolton has previously said that he would honor a Senate subpoena, but the president has threatened to invoke executive privilege in an attempt to silence his former advisor.
Another early fight shaping up regards press access. Some senators have advocated new restrictions on the press for the duration of the trial. There is bipartisan opposition to these new rules, however.
For now, we’ll have to wait to see what ground rules senators agree to as the trial gets underway tomorrow.