After Weeks of Delay, House Transmits Articles of Impeachment to Senate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named seven Democratic members of Congress as the managers to argue the case for impeachment before the Senate.

"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 in a Wednesday press conference.

As early as Thursday morning, the impeachment managers will read the House resolution that appointed them as well as the articles of impeachment in full – on the Senate floor. Later that day, the Senate will proceed to the articles at 1 p.m. – or sooner.

This episode: White House correspondents Tamara Keith and Ayesha Rascoe, congressional correspondent Susan Davis.

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After Weeks of Delay, House Transmits Articles of Impeachment to Senate

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After Weeks of Delay, House Transmits Articles of Impeachment to Senate

After Weeks of Delay, House Transmits Articles of Impeachment to Senate

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  • Transcript

PATRICK: Hi, this is Patrick (ph) in Santa Fe, N.M. I'm in my pottery studio, and I just wiped my fingers off so I can record this voice memo. This podcast was recorded at...

TAMARA KEITH, HOST:

2:46 p.m. on Wednesday, the 15 of January.

PATRICK: Things may have changed by the time you hear this. OK. Here's the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BIGTOP ORCHESTRA'S "TEETER BOARD: FOLIES BERGERE (MARCH AND TWO-STEP)")

KEITH: Now I want to know what Patrick was making.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: I mean, that - well, that's giving me real "Ghost" Patrick Swayze vibes. He's in there...

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: (Laughter).

KEITH: Oh, my gosh. And his name is Patrick.

RASCOE: And his name is Patrick. But hopefully, there's no ghost.

KEITH: Some ghost pottery.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

KEITH: Hey there. It's the NPR POLITICS PODCAST. I'm Tamara Keith. I cover the White House.

RASCOE: I'm Ayesha Rascoe. I also cover the White House.

DAVIS: And I'm Susan Davis. I cover Congress.

KEITH: So it has been almost a month since the House voted to impeach President Trump. And since then, not a lot has happened. But the mystery of when this Senate trial would begin seems to be solved today. Is that right?

DAVIS: It is mostly solved. We know that after the naming of the impeachment managers, it's going to set a couple of three days of procedural back and forth between the House and Senate. And the expectation now is the Senate trial will begin probably on Tuesday.

KEITH: So let's walk through what happened today. Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, announced who the impeachment managers would be, and the House of Representatives voted to make them the impeachment managers.

DAVIS: So in the resolution, it includes the seven lawmakers who will act, essentially, as the prosecution in the Senate impeachment trial. A couple of names people have heard a lot in this process - House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler will essentially be leading this team of seven. It is made up mostly of lawyers. Six of the seven have law degrees, have practiced as lawyers or as U.S. attorneys or litigators. Most of them come from the Judiciary Committee, which oversees and has the jurisdiction of impeachment.

And more broadly, it's a reflection of sort of how Speaker Nancy Pelosi does these things. It's very reflective of the caucus itself. It's gender-diverse. It's racially diverse. It's geographically diverse. So all sort of corners of the Democratic Party will feel represented in the impeachment team.

KEITH: So these are, like, the prosecutors. This - these are the ones...

RASCOE: Like "Law & Order."

KEITH: Yeah.

RASCOE: On "Law & Order," these are the prosecutors. Yes.

DAVIS: Yeah. And we expect Adam Schiff will do a lot of the case-making here in the Senate because his committee conducted the bulk of the impeachment investigation through his committee. And his job is essentially to make the case to 100 senators, the jurors, that President Trump deserves removal from office because of his conduct.

KEITH: So as this podcast is hitting your feeds, a very ceremonial thing is going to be happening where these articles of impeachment are, Sue, literally going to be carried from the House side of the Capitol to the Senate side of the Capitol.

DAVIS: Yeah. I mean, there is a ton of pomp and circumstance that goes around these events, especially if you consider that all of this is - or most of this is outlined in the Constitution. And the impeachment process, even though, obviously, it's been very partisan and politicized, is still seen as very solemn and very serious and some of the most serious votes lawmakers can take.

And so I think you're going to see some of that solemnity on display with these sort of ceremonial walks across the Capitol to deliver a notification that the House is impeached, and the Senate will send a notice back saying, OK, we're ready to receive them. And there will be a dramatic reading on the Senate floor of the articles of impeachment and a lot of - I don't know - like, sort of procedural back and forth before they can really get into the meat of the trial, which is the presentations of the cases for and against impeachment.

KEITH: You actually walked it, right?

DAVIS: I did.

KEITH: You charted the course.

DAVIS: So around 5 o'clock this evening, the impeachment managers are going to gather with the speaker, and they have to do something called an engrossment ceremony on the resolution they passed today. Basically, everyone just needs to sign it. It's like paperwork.

And they will be then led by the clerk of the House and the House sergeant at arms, who are presiding officers over the House of Representatives. And they're going to walk from just off the House floor over to just off the Senate floor to formally notify the Senate that the House has impeached the president. And they need to get word back from the Senate to say, OK, you can come and read the articles on the floor.

KEITH: This is, like, slower than a carrier pigeon. Like, everybody's got this news, but this is sort of the ceremonial version of it.

DAVIS: It will - and a lot of this is for the television cameras. Even in the modern era, you know, people want to see this image of these lawmakers walking across the Capitol. I don't know if it's going to be altogether that dramatic. It certainly won't take that long.

For the sake of our listeners, I did some very investigative journalism today and walked the walk that the lawmakers are going to take to figure out how many steps and how long it takes. And my exclusive reporting...

(LAUGHTER)

DAVIS: ...Must credit - is it's approximately 236 steps from where House lawmakers will begin their walk to where it ends outside the Senate floor. And I should note I'm a very fast walker. So I tried to slow down to walk with a serious, sober, ceremonial pace. And it still only took me about two minutes and 23 seconds. So this isn't going to be a very long event, but it's certainly one that you're going to probably see images of all over your newspapers tomorrow.

RASCOE: And there will be no one, like, ringing bells or saying, hear ye, hear ye, or anything like that.

DAVIS: I wish. I would like that. There will be a little bit more of that hear ye, hear ye, call the Senate to order, most likely tomorrow, when the House impeachment managers will present the articles on the floor of the Senate. And we'll see - that's when Chief Justice John Roberts will be sworn in to preside over the trial. And he will, in turn, swear in all 100 senators who will have to take a oath of impartial justice. And then trial deliberations will begin shortly thereafter.

KEITH: I know that we've been talking about the impeachment of President Trump for a very long time now, but I feel like we should just go over what these articles of impeachment are, what the president is accused of and what these senators who are swearing to impartial justice - what they're going to be considering.

RASCOE: What this is really all about is you have two articles. And the first article is this article that says that the president abused his power. This is when they get into this idea that the president held up money that had been appropriated - military funding for Ukraine - in order to pressure Ukraine's president to open an investigation into his political rival and that that constitutes an abuse of power. And then the second article is about obstruction of Congress. And it's this idea that the president was obstructing Congress by not participating or cooperating at all with subpoenas or requests for documents and witnesses. And by just totally shutting that down, that he was obstructing the process and not respecting a co-equal branch of government.

KEITH: We are going to take a quick break. And when we get back - how President Trump and his lawyers plan to defend against these charges and what we can expect from the trial.

All right, we are back. And, Ayesha, the White House has been somewhat cagey about exactly who is going to be representing President Trump in this trial, but we have a sense. They've at least revealed some of the players.

RASCOE: Yes. So we know that White House counsel Pat Cipollone will be representing the president. Now, this is someone who has not been seen, you know, talking in public very much. He's not a public figure, but he is a well-respected Republican lawyer, and he has worked on some major cases in the past. Right now, he's representing the White House, the institution of the White House. And we also know that they're going to have President Trump's personal lawyer - Jay Sekulow will be representing the president. And he is someone who has been very visible. He represented the president when it came to the Russia investigation. He's been all over TV and making the case, defending the president. And so we know that those two will be involved. They've been a little bit cagey about who else they might have involved and whether they would allow, say, House Republicans or people like that to come in and to help them. But we know that those two will be leading it.

KEITH: Some White House officials gave a briefing to reporters today to lay out their position, their idea of how this trial will go. And, Sue, I would be very interested to vet this against what you're hearing from the Hill because the two main things that I'm hearing from the White House are that they don't expect that this trial will need to last any more than two weeks, and they don't think that there's any need for witnesses. Here's a quote. We think that these articles fail on their face. These are the weakest articles of impeachment that have ever been passed, is what they're arguing. And part of what I wonder here is, is some of this wishful thinking? Or are you hearing from the Hill that this is going to be a very fast trial with no witnesses?

DAVIS: Well, I think the expectation from the start is that this would follow the framework of the Clinton impeachment, which, overall, lasted about four to six weeks. But the meat of the trial, the important argument-making, was about two to three weeks. And that's kind of what we're operating on here. I would caution anyone to take with a grain of salt that the White House knows the Senate schedule better than Mitch McConnell or senators do. And not all of this is up to Mitch McConnell. There's a lot of deliberations that can go on in this process that may well run longer than two weeks, but we don't expect, you know, much longer than that.

Mitch McConnell is going to put forward a resolution that's going to kind of give us the framework of the trial - how many hours they get to present their cases, how long senators will have to ask questions in writing. Those things will be known. There's still a lot of wild cards about this trial. We don't know how this is going to play out on the Senate floor. And one of the big questions that's going to loom over this trial is whether, after the cases for and against impeachment have been made, is that satisfactory enough to these senators to not call any more witnesses or call for more evidence? Or will there be some sort of witness agreement to say, you know what? Maybe we need to hear from a few more players in this case.

KEITH: And, Ayesha, just in the last 24 hours, there has been new evidence released by the House - by House Democrats. It doesn't really change sort of the understanding - sort of the broad strokes of what the president is accused of or anything like that. But it does give Democrats new ammunition.

RASCOE: Yeah, it gives them ammunition to say that there's more out there and that more could come out that hasn't already. And what these were were documents from an associate of the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani - and so this associate Lev Parnas. And some of these documents include this previously undisclosed letter from Rudy Giuliani to the president of Ukraine, in which he says that he is the president's personal attorney and that he is acting with the president's knowledge and consent on a personal matter, or in a personal capacity, but that he was requesting this urgent meeting with President Zelenskiy.

He doesn't specify in the letter what he was talking about, but it's an example of this kind of murky - he's representing the president personally, but this is the president, and he makes that clear. And I need to talk to you, the leader of another country who is very obviously beholden to the U.S. and dependent on the U.S. for military aid and for its safety. So it raises just kind of the murkiness of, what was Rudy Giuliani doing? And it makes what Democrats will argue is that the president knew what he was doing, according to this letter.

KEITH: So in terms of podcast planning and TiVo setting for C-SPAN, the meat of the trial, the really interesting part, the arguments - we're expecting that sometime middle of next week.

DAVIS: We expect the Senate trial to start on Tuesday. The good thing for people out there, if you're not early risers, neither is the Senate.

KEITH: (Laughter).

DAVIS: The Senate rules dictate that impeachment won't begin every day till about 1 p.m., and it's not expected to go much past 6 or 7 in the evening. So it's not going to eat up too much of your time. However, it is expected to go six days a week and will require senators to work on Saturdays, which is another rude awakening for many members of the United States Senate.

KEITH: All right, that is a wrap for today. Remember that we have a live show coming up January 31 in Des Moines, Iowa. So if you live in Iowa or you're going to be there for the caucuses, get your tickets now at nprpresents.org.

I'm Tamara Keith. I cover the White House.

RASCOE: I'm Ayesha Rascoe. I also cover the White House.

DAVIS: And I'm Susan Davis. I cover Congress.

KEITH: And thank you for listening to the NPR POLITICS PODCAST.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BIGTOP ORCHESTRA'S "TEETER BOARD: FOLIES BERGERE (MARCH AND TWO-STEP)")

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