The House gives the Senate a historic case of political trial against Trump

The president of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi (Democrat for California), declared that Trump was guilty of “an assault on the United States Constitution” and rejected criticism that his political trial had political motivations.

“We take it very seriously,” Pelosi said in statements on the floor of the House. “It is not personal. It is not political. It is not partisan. It is patriotic.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Attacked the House’s investigation as “unprecedented and dangerous” and accused Democrats of “pure factionalism.”

“This has been a partisanship naked all the time,” McConnell said in the Senate. “.. We had a tradition of 230 years of rejecting purely political challenges. He died last month.

As tensions rose throughout the Capitol, new evidence of Trump’s campaign of pressure on Ukraine for his political benefit added urgency to the Democrats’ drive for more witness testimony and documents during the trial phase.

The records of Lev Parnas, associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, showed that Ukraine’s chief prosecutor offered harmful information related to former Vice President Joe Biden if the Trump administration withdrew the US ambassador. UU. In Ukraine They also revealed claims of a Republican Congress candidate that he had the then ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, under physical and electronic surveillance.

The charges of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, focus on the accusation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate its political rivals, including Biden.

Pelosi argued that the revelations demonstrated the wisdom of his decision to retain the articles for a month, a tactic that did not meet its main objectives of assuring witness testimony or forcing McConnell to describe the terms of the trial.

“Time has been our friend in all this, because it has thrown incriminating evidence, more truth into the public domain,” he said at a press conference in Capitol Hill.

Senator Susan Collins (Republican of Maine), one of the moderates whose views on the additional evidence could shape the trial, had a different opinion.

“Doesn’t that suggest that the Chamber did an incomplete job, then?” He said.

The records were published Tuesday night by the four House committees that carried out the political trial investigation, just as Senate Republicans began to unite around the idea that each party had the opportunity to call witnesses, if enough moderates agreed with the Democrats that more evidence is needed.

One day after Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) Proposed the idea of ​​”reciprocity,” which would allow Trump’s legal team to call Hunter Biden if Democrats get enough votes to summon former national security adviser John Bolton. , for example, two moderates Republicans said they were open to the idea.

“The idea that only the House of Representatives managers can call witnesses is something I reject,” said Collins, who has insisted on voting if witnesses should be called. “Clearly they should be both sides, both sides should have the opportunity. But as for the approval of specific witnesses, I have not yet heard the case. “

Senator Mitt Romney (Republican of Utah) said Wednesday that he would be willing for each party to choose “which witnesses they want to appear, instead of coming in and saying,” Well, I want that one, I want that one. ” . . . I think I hope both parties can put together their own list of demands. “

If the moderates decide that witnesses are necessary, four Republicans would be required to join all members of the Democratic committee to vote in favor.

In private, McConnell and other high-ranking Republicans still hope that most senators think they’ve heard enough, after days of discussions of the House’s political trial administrators, the president’s defense attorney and several rounds of questions. , to go on a vote to determine if Trump should be removed from office.

Several closely watched Republican senators declined to say if they believed Hunter Biden was worthy of being summoned for political trial.

Biden was on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, and Trump and Giuliani have promoted an unfounded theory that Joe Biden, while he was vice president, tried to stop a corruption investigation of the company to protect his son. Hunter Biden is no longer on the board of Burisma.

“I’m not going to comment on that right now,” Romney said about whether Hunter Biden’s testimony is justified. “I think that each party should be able to choose the people they want to hear from.”

“You are asking me to prejudge the evidence,” Collins said. “I don’t know what witnesses we are going to need until I hear the case.”

“I feel like I’m just going to print a sign, I don’t know if I’m going to have it on my back or on my chest, saying there will be a moment in the process where we will have the opportunity to determine what additional information we need, whether from Hunter Biden or Ambassador Bolton or Lisa Murkowski, “said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).” So, until that moment, I am not thinking of each individual witness. “

The Democrats were unanimous in their opinion that Hunter Biden’s testimony would be irrelevant.

“Any judge of first instance in this country would declare a witness as irrelevant and inadmissible,” said the chairman of the Judicial Committee of the House of Representatives, Jerrold Nadler (DN.Y.), one of the administrators of political trial approved by the camera on Wednesday.

“If someone is accused of robbing a bank, witnesses who say:‘ We saw him run to the bank. We saw it elsewhere, “they are relevant,” Nadler said. “A witness who says” committed forgery in another document “is not relevant to the bank robbery charge. That is the distinction.”

“The Senate is on trial, as is the president,” with accusation, Nadler said.

The transmission of the articles marked the end of the four-week confrontation between Pelosi and McConnell, although a series of indirect battles over time and protocol highlighted persistent resentments.

The House voted on Wednesday to send the two articles to the Senate and approve seven Democratic lawmakers to serve as political trial managers or prosecutors.

That group is noticeably smaller and more diverse than the team of lawmakers leveraged by House Republicans to present the case during the political trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999, when the 13 managers were white men. Pelosi’s team includes three women and two African Americans.

The resolution was passed 228 to 193, breaking largely along the party lines.

The procedural formalities of the trial are expected to begin on Thursday with the reading of the articles; the oath of the President of the Supreme Court John G. Roberts Jr., who will preside; and the swearing in of senators as jurors. After that, the Senate is expected to go into recess during the weekend; The trial will begin seriously on Tuesday, according to McConnell.

The White House said Wednesday that it does not expect the Senate political trial to last more than two weeks, presenting the acquittal as an inevitable conclusion and arguing that Trump’s team will present “a very strong case for the president.”

When asked if Trump would move forward with plans to deliver his speech on the state of the Union on February 4, even if the political trial has not concluded by then, a senior administration official told reporters: “I think that it is extraordinarily unlikely that we are going beyond two weeks. “

“We believe this case is overwhelming for the president, and the Senate will not need to spend so much time on this,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the White House’s internal deliberations and discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.

In the Chamber, the debate on the resolution to send the articles and approve managers was encouraged.

Pelosi stressed that Trump is “accused of life,” regardless of what happens in the Senate.

“The president is not above the law,” he said. “He will be held responsible. He has been held responsible. He has been charged. He has been accused forever. You can never erase that. “

Mike DeBonis, Paul Kane, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.

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