After a day of routine commotion on Capitol Hill, the halls fell silent and attention turned to the pieces of paper inside a pair of blue folders bound for the Senate.
A procession of newly appointed political trial managers solemnly accompanied political trial articles throughout the Capitol in a ritual performed only twice before in the nation’s 232-year history.
Journalists and curious strove to capture every historical step of highly choreographed procedures. Each heel strike against the marble floors of the Capitol inspired another series of photos.
The ceremonial delivery of the camera that brought the charges to the camera that will process them felt anachronistic in the era of emails, text messages and tweets. But he added a sense of formality and historical weight, almost a month after the House of Representatives criticized Trump for charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
The Chamber employee, Cheryl Johnson, was carrying the items, flanked by arms sergeant Paul Irving. They led the march through the Statuary Hall, where the luminaries of the 50 states are honored, then under the domed dome of the roundabout that divides the Capitol and beyond the Ohio Clock, a mahogany clock announcing the entrance to the majestic Senate chamber.
There, the managers passed through the doors of the chamber, where the majority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, and more than two dozen Democratic senators waited for the delivery.
“Mr. President, a message from the House of Representatives,” Johnson said, announcing the resolution by adopting the two articles and appointing the seven managers, who were grimly in the corner of the chamber.
McConnell, operating without much precedent, received the articles and offered a series of resolutions that would shape the subsequent trial, which will begin “seriously” next week.
The case of the House to dismiss the president will be presented by a team of seven Democrats, who, for the first time in history, will look less like the Founding Fathers of the nation, all white and all male, and more like the rest of the country. Three of the seven managers are women, two are African-American and one is Hispanic.
The lineup includes a former federal prosecutor, a former police chief, an army ranger and the only member of Congress who participated in the three modern dismissals.
The broadcast ended a four-week showdown between a self-styled “master legislator” and the self-styled “grim reaper.” The president of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and McConnell had disagreed after their unprecedented decision to delay sending the articles to the Republican-controlled Senate.
In the House, the intermission between Trump’s political trial and the delivery of the articles had only hardened the partisan resentment that had taken over the process.
At noon, the chamber met to discuss the dismissal for the last time on the floor of the House of Representatives before approving, in a vote from 228 to 193 that fell almost completely along the lines of the party, a resolution that would transmit the articles to the Senate and appoint the managers, who will function as prosecutors in the trial.
“My minority colleagues would rather talk about anything than trying to defend what President Trump really did because they can’t,” said Congressman Jerry Nadler, chairman of the judicial committee and political trial manager, in an indignant voice.
The Republican leader of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, denounced the process as the “fastest, thinnest and weakest political trial in US history,” finding comfort in the belief that a Senate trial would finally put An end to what he called a “sad saga” and a “national nightmare.” He accused Pelosi of hypocrisy for retaining the articles after arguing that Trump posed such a serious threat to the rule of law that Congress could not wait to act until the November 2020 presidential elections.
“Don’t talk to me about my moment,” Pelosi replied in a speech moments later. “For a long time, I resisted calls from across the country for the impeachment of the president … Frankly, I said that this president was not worth it. But when he acted as he did in [relation] to withhold funds from Ukraine in exchange for a personal and political benefit, he crossed the threshold. He didn’t give us another option. “
That afternoon, Pelosi, flanked by his political trial managers and the president of the committee and under the gaze of a portrait of the first president of the nation, signed both articles of political trial.
Moments later, at 5.34 pm, the managers officially handed over the articles, concluding their effective death march to the Senate, where McConnell said “only one result” is adequate for what he called a “constitutionally incoherent” case filed against the president. in a “partisan rage attack”.
But there is still a lot of room for a court drama and unexpected plot twists in the coming days and weeks. On Tuesday, the Chamber handed over a treasure of revealing new documents related to Trump’s campaign of pressure against Ukraine, and managers said Wednesday that more would come.
Whatever the verdict that awaits the president in the Senate, Pelosi believes that the Chamber has done its duty.
“He has been accused forever,” he said. “You can never erase that.”