The strange and strange ritual of taking articles of political judgment from the House to the Senate

Almost a month after the House approved the two articles, on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, without a single Republican vote, President Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, held a “fascination ceremony” to sign the bill before That was presented to Congress. Senate controlled by Republicans, who will hold the president’s trial.

Pelosi’s office said he was following “precedent,” a confusing word considering only two presidents before Trump is charged, with all the ignominious pomp that accompanies him.

Half an hour before the parade began, the office of the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, sent a rain cloud and told reporters that, according to Congressional rules, the articles of political trial could not be delivered “formally” ” until the next day.

Formally or not, Pelosi (California) and a retinue of high-level Democrats entered Rayburn’s reception room at 5:15 p.m. to find several dozen photographers who already packed the articles of political judgment, which had been placed on a table next to a sign that said “#DEFENDOURDEMOCRACY”.

“So sad, so tragic for our country that the actions taken by the president undermined our national security,” he said, speaking from a lectern between a pair of six-foot ornamental vases. “Today we will make history when the [impeachment] managers walk down the hall. “

Pelosi sat down and signed the bill, which took several minutes, as he used a different pen for each blow, took them out of the gold-colored trays and then distributed them to the other Democrats in Congress. “We’re done! We’re done! We’re done!” Shouted Rep. Maxine Waters (California), who had been calling for Trump’s dismissal since 2017, before leaving Rayburn’s room with his memorial pen held high .

The procession began. The secretary of the Chamber, Cheryl L. Johnson, removed the items from the room and crossed them through the main corridor of the Capitol next to the Sergeant of the House of Arms Paul Irving and followed by seven political trial managers that Pelosi chose to process the case at trial. Directly behind her were the president of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) And the President of the House of Representatives Judicial Committee, Jerrold Nadler (DN.Y.), with his faces as impassive as the statues flanking his route: Rosa Parks and Chief Standing Bear and Alexander Hamilton Stephens, vice president of the Confederation.

The procession followed a route first presented on February 25, 1868, one day after the dismissal of President Andrew Johnson. That time, the bills were handed over to the Senate by Representative Thaddeus Stevens (R-Pa.), Who was so weak from a disease that attendees had to take him through the Capitol in a chair.

“All eyes followed Thad Stevens as he limped down the central hall of the busy Senate chamber,” wrote David O. Stewart in his book “Accused.”

“He invoked the authority of the House of Representatives and the people of the United States, and then announced:” Yes we accuse Andrew Johnson, president of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors in office. “

That first ceremony was even more random than those that will come. House Republicans had not yet decided why crimes and offenses were accusing the president, so Stevens returned to the Senate House a week later with nearly two dozen handwritten and punched pages, accusing Johnson of 11 articles, including an attempt to “bring misfortune, ridicule, hate, despise and reproach the United States Congress.”

Stevens’ walk created a kind of tradition, such as a scarcer, rarer and less celebrated version of the ceremonial march to open Parliament in Britain.

One hundred thirty years later, on December 19, 1998, Republicans repeated the political trial walk, this time with articles accusing President Bill Clinton of obstructing justice and lying under oath. That parade, which included then-Rep. Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.), concluded in the narrow office of Senate Secretary Gary Sisco, who accepted the document from the members of the House, left it on his desk near the photos of his family and the remote control of television, and watched the procession leave immediately. through a door decorated with Christmas wreaths.

Despite all the bullshit, Johnson and Clinton’s dismissals ended in acquittal. Probably, Trump will too, given that his Republican allies control the Senate and, therefore, his trial. But the Democrats were able to walk the items under the celestial mural of the Capitol dome on Wednesday and directly to the Senate, where Johnson, the secretary of the House of Representatives, announced the next “trial of political trial against Donald John Trump.” and Pro Tempore Senate President Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) responded in an inexpressive tone: “The message will be received.”

A bust of President Richard M. Nixon looked outside the chamber doors. He had avoided similar formalities by resigning first.

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