By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday named the seven lawmakers who will prosecute U.S. President Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate.
Pelosi said in choosing the team the emphasis was on lawmakers who had past experience as litigators and had exhibited a high level of comfort in courtroom settings.
They will be led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Pelosi announced. Congressmen Jerry Nadler, Hakeem Jeffries, Jason Crow and congresswomen Zoe Lofgren, Val Demings and Sylvia Garcia will comprise the rest of the team.
Schiff served as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles for six years before entering politics, and Jeffries and Crow have past experience working as litigators in private practice. Garcia served as the presiding judge of Houston's municipal system, and was the first Latina elected to the Harris County Commissioners Court.
Nadler, who is the House Judiciary Committee chairman, has been the top Democrat on the committee's Constitution panel for 13 years.
Demings was Orlando, Florida’s first female police chief, and Lofgren, who is serving her 13th term in Congress, has experience in the impeachment proceedings of former President Richard Nixon as a Judiciary Committee staffer, and former President Bill Clinton as a committee member.
The naming of the managers marks a major milestone in Trump's impeachment proceedings. It will be followed by a vote on transmitting Trump's two impeachment articles which is expected Wednesday.
Pelosi has been withholding them since December in a bid to ramp up pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as she sought to win concessions on the rules of Trump's trial, and whether witnesses would be called. But McConnell has held firm, refusing to budge on any matters before they are sent.
The Senate has yet to vote on the rules of the trial, but Trump is almost certain to be acquitted in the Republican-held chamber. Democrats would need 67 votes to remove him from office, but none of the Senate's 53 Republicans have indicated they would support Trump's removal.
Trump was impeached in December when the House approved abuse of power and obstruction of Congress articles against him.
The charges are related to Trump's multiple requests to Ukraine to publicly declare criminal probes into Democratic front-runner Joe Biden, as well as his refusal to cooperate with the House's proceedings and his directive that top officials toe the same line.
Trump has dismissed the case against him as a hoax fabricated by Democrats, and called on his Republican allies in Congress to move for a quick dismissal of the case.
But McConnell said Tuesday there is "little or no sentiment in the Republican conference for" that course of action, bucking the president's request and setting the stage for a longer-term process.
The White House harshly rebuked Pelosi shortly after she named the managers, saying it "does not change a single thing."
"President Trump has done nothing wrong. He looks forward to having the due process rights in the Senate that Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats denied to him, and expects to be fully exonerated," said spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham.
Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over the proceedings, which will see Trump become only the third president in U.S. history to face a Senate trial when it begins likely next Tuesday.