WASHINGTON — The House voted Wednesday, Jan. 15, to send the Senate two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump - abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. It also approved seven Democrats to serve as prosecutors in the third trial of a U.S. president.
The resolution was approved 228 to 193, breaking largely along party lines.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., plans to hold an "engrossment" ceremony at 5 p.m., and then the managers are scheduled to begin a procession across the Capitol Rotunda to present the articles of impeachment to the secretary of the Senate.
After an initial phase, the Senate trial will begin in earnest next week, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The crux of the Democrats case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Pelosi name seven House members to serve as impeachment managers for the Senate triaL: Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.; Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.; Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas; Val Demings, D-Fla.; Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; and Jason Crow, D-Colo.
Pelosi's team of managers is both smaller and more diverse than the group of lawmakers than House Republicans tapped for the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999. For that trial, all 13 managers were white men.
The group will argue that Trump abused the power of his office, obstructed Congress and should be removed from office. Countering that argument will be Trump's defense team, which is expected to be led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone.
The White House signaled Wednesday that it doesn't expect the Senate impeachment trial to last longer than two weeks, casting acquital as a foregone conclusion and arguing that Trump's team will present "a very strong case for the president."
"We think that this case is overwhelming for the president, and the Senate's not going to be having any need to be taking that amount of time on this," a senior administration official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about internal White House deliberations, told reporters.
The official added that House Democrats "don't have any credible evidence to show any wrongdoing."
Democrats have been pressing former national security adviser John Bolton to testify, and Bolton has said he would be open to doing so, if subpoenaed. But the White House suggested Wednesday that such a scenario would be unlikely, with the senior administration official saying it would be "extraordinary" for Bolton to testify about his communications with the president on national security issues.
Nadler opened the House debate on the resolution by saying a Senate trial is needed "because President Trump gravely abused the power of his office when he strong-armed a foreign government to announce investigations into his domestic political rival."
"He betrayed our country when he used the powers of his office - including withholding vital U.S. military assistance - to pressure that government to help him win reelection. He invited foreign interference into our elections - again," Nadler said. "He jeopardized our national security. He did it all for his personal, political gain. And then he violated the Constitution by stonewalling Congress' efforts to investigate, ordering an absolute blockade of evidence."
Republicans countered by arguing that Democrats were motivated by their dislike of Trump."This has always been a political impeachment," said Rep. Douglas Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
Pelosi closed the debate on the resolution by declaring that Trump was guilty of "an assault on the Constitution of the United States" and pushing back on Republican criticism that the effort to remove Trump from office was politically motivated.
"We take it very seriously," the speaker said. "It's not personal. It's not political. It's not partisan. It's patriotic."
In earlier remarks, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., cited similar comments previously made by Pelosi in arguing that Trump's impeachment was politically motivated.
"This was always an exercise in raw partisan politics," said McCarthy, who asserted that the House proceedings led to "the fastest, thinnest and weakest impeachment in American history."
This article was written by John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez, reporters for The Washington Post.