WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tapped two trusted committee chairmen to lead the team that will make the case in the Senate for President Donald Trump’s removal from office, supported by a relatively small cast of additional impeachment “managers.”
Confirming widespread speculation that swirled for weeks as she held back the articles, Pelosi turned to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., to lead the House team. She made the announcement at a Wednesday news conference after keeping the cast of managers under tight wraps for weeks.
Joining Schiff and Nadler are Democratic Reps. Jason Crow of Colorado, Val Demings of Florida, Sylvia Garcia of Texas, Hakeem Jeffries of New York and Zoe Lofgren of California.
The seven-member team is smaller than the 13-member squad that presented articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton to the Senate in 1999, reflecting a more tightly controlled approach to the investigation. In a sign of the highly choreographed process, Garcia said she learned only Tuesday that she would be named a manager.
Emphasis on litigators
“The emphasis is on litigators, the emphasis is on comfort level in the courtroom, the emphasis is making the strongest possible case to protect and defend our Constitution, to seek the truth for the American people,” Pelosi said Wednesday as she introduced the team.
Schiff, 59, has been the unquestioned leader of the congressional investigation into Trump’s alleged scheme to coerce the Ukrainian government into investigating his political rivals by withholding nearly $400 million in military aid.
The House Intelligence Committee was joined by three other panels in conducting the probe, but it was Schiff — a former federal prosecutor who is among Pelosi’s most trusted colleagues — who directed the effort from the start.
Nadler, 72, headed the second phase of the House impeachment inquiry, laying the constitutional foundation for the adoption of the two articles — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — and shepherding them to the House floor.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Nadler cited an “overwhelming case” for Trump’s removal but also said it was incumbent on the Senate to call additional witnesses — deeming it a “test of the Constitution.”
“The American people know that in a trial you permit witnesses, you present the evidence,” he said. “The Senate is on trial as well as the president: Does the Senate conduct a trial according to the Constitution to vindicate the republic? Or does the Senate participate in the president’s crimes by covering them up?”
Addressing reporters, Schiff indicated he would continue to push the GOP-led Senate to call additional witnesses and seek documents that the Trump administration refused to provide to the House, and he defended Democrats’ decision not to wait for a federal court to mediate the interbranch dispute.
“Yes, we could have waited years to get testimony, further testimony from all the people the president has been obstructing,” he said. “But essentially, that would completely negate the impeachment power — that is, allow the president, by virtue of obstruction, to prevent his own impeachment.”
“Unless the president is willing to concede everything the House has alleged,” he added, “these witnesses are very pertinent and relevant.”
The House voted Wednesday to formally name the managers and send the two articles to the Senate. After the vote, Pelosi held a formal ceremony to sign and “engross” the articles for transmission across the Capitol, followed by a procession of the managers to the Senate door.
Contrary to much of the speculation that had swirled ahead of the announcement, aside from Schiff, only one other manager is a member of the Intelligence Committee — Demings, who belongs to both the Intelligence and Judiciary panels.
All seven, however, have a variety of professional backgrounds in the law.
Demings, 62, is the only nonlawyer, but she is steeped in law enforcement, having served as the first woman chief of the Orlando Police Department. Garcia, 69, one of two freshmen on the managers’ team, is a former state senator and longtime county judge.
Lofgren, 72, is participating in her third impeachment. She worked as a congressional staffer during the 1974 impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon and served on the Judiciary Committee during the 1998 proceedings against Clinton. While she is best known on Capitol Hill for her immigration expertise, Lofgren also has broad experience in constitutional matters and is a trusted Pelosi ally.
Jeffries, 49, has emerged this year as one of his party’s chief messengers as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. But before embarking on his congressional career, Jeffries worked as a corporate litigator in New York and has long served on the Judiciary Committee. There he worked closely with Republicans — and Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner — to advance a major criminal justice reform bill in 2018.
Crow, 40, is the only manager who did not serve on any of the investigating committees, but he has national security credentials as a former U.S. Army Ranger officer and member of the House Armed Services Committee. He also practiced law before his 2018 election to Congress and was a key member of a group of seven freshmen who spoke up at a critical juncture in September to support the launching of an impeachment inquiry.
Diversity was also a consideration in selecting the team, aides said in the weeks leading up to the announcement. Three of the seven are women. Demings and Jeffries are African American; Garcia is Latina. Garcia and Crow also bring geographic diversity to a group otherwise drawn from coastal states.
Among the lawmakers she passed over are some of the House’s most aggressive advocates for impeachment — including some with legal backgrounds such as Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., an Intelligence Committee member who worked as a state prosecutor, and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a Judiciary Committee member who was a constitutional law professor at American University in Washington.
Nor did Pelosi choose independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican who some observers suggested could help make the case for removal a less partisan one.
“I believe they bring to this case in the United States Senate great patriotism, great respect of the Constitution of the United States, comfort level in the courtroom,” Pelosi said of her chosen managers. “It’s going to be a very big commitment of time, but I don’t think we could be better served.”