By Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday named two House chairmen who led President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry as prosecutors for Trump’s Senate trial.
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who led the probe, and Judiciary Chair Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose committee approved the impeachment articles, as among the managers of the prosecution.
“Today is an important day,” said Pelosi, flanked by the team. “This is about the Constitution of the United States.”’
Schiff and Nadler will lead the seven member team that includes a diverse selection of lawmakers, particularly those with courtroom experience.
They include Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Sylvia Garcia of Texas, Val Demings of Florida and Jason Crow of Colorado.
Crow, who lives in Aurora, was elected to the U.S. House in 2018. He unseated longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman to get there.
His election was his first foray into politics. Before that he was an attorney at the Denver office of the sprawling Holland & Hart law firm. There he handled cases ranging from investigations to defending civil and criminal litigation and developing legal-compliance programs.
Crow is a retired Army Ranger, as well, who was awarded the Bronze Star.
Crow did not support impeachment during his 2018 campaign, saying he didn’t have all of the information necessary to make such a decision. He endorsed opening an impeachment inquiry into Trump in July, after the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into the 2016 election. He also said pressure from his constituents played a role.
“I heard that message and certainly took it into account with my decision,” Crow told The Colorado Sun over the summer.
MORE: How Colorado’s U.S. Rep. Jason Crow evolved from pumping the brakes on impeachment to supporting an inquiry
Republicans have been trying to use Crow’s support of impeachment against him, holding rallies outside his Aurora office calling on him to reconsider.
“As an impeachment manager, I will approach the process with the dignity and seriousness that it deserves, and advocate for a full and fair trial,” Crow said in a written statement Wednesday. “It’s my solemn responsibility to lay out the facts and give the Senate — and the American people — confidence in the process. It is the duty of Congress to protect the rule-of-law and hold the president accountable. Our democracy depends on it.”
Crow’s office did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Boulder, was rumored to be among those being considered for an impeachment manager position. The Boulder Democrat played a major role in the impeachment proceedings as they made their way through the House.
During Pelosi’s press conference, Trump tweeted that impeachment is “another Con Job by the Do Nothing Democrats. All of this work was supposed to be done by the House, not the Senate!”
Trump was impeached by the Democratic-led House last month on charges of abuse of power over his pressure on Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden as Trump withheld aid from the country. He was also charged with obstructing Congress’ ensuing probe.
The House is set to vote later in the day to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial on whether the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are grounds for his removal. The managers will then walk the articles across the Capitol to the Senate.
Trump’s trial will be only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, and it comes against the backdrop of a politically divided nation and an election year.
New details of Trump’s efforts on Ukraine emerged late Tuesday, increasing pressure on senators to call witnesses in the trial, a step that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been reluctant to take.
House investigators announced they were turning over a “trove” of new records of phone calls, text messages and other information from Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the information shows Trump’s effort ‘’to coerce Ukraine into helping the President’s reelection campaign.” He said this and other new testimony must be included in the Senate trial.
The Senate is expected to transform into an impeachment court as early as Thursday, although significant proceedings wouldn’t begin until next Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The Constitution calls for the chief justice to preside over senators, who serve as jurors, to swear an oath to deliver “impartial justice.”
McConnell, who is negotiating rules for the trial proceedings, said all 53 GOP senators are on board with his plan to start the session and consider the issue of witnesses later.
Senate Republicans also signaled they would reject the idea of simply voting to dismiss the articles of impeachment against Trump, as Trump himself has suggested. McConnell agreed he does not have the votes to do that.
“There is little or no sentiment in the Republican conference for a motion to dismiss,” McConnell said Tuesday. “Our members feel we have an obligation to listen to the arguments.”
A mounting number of senators say they want to ensure the ground rules include the possibility of calling new witnesses.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is leading an effort among some Republicans, including Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for witness votes.
Romney said he wants to hear from John Bolton, the former national security adviser at the White House, who others have said raised alarms about the alternative foreign policy toward Ukraine being run by Giuliani.
Democrats have been pushing Republicans, who have a slim Senate majority, to consider new testimony, arguing that fresh information has emerged during Pelosi’s monthlong delay in transmitting the charges.
Republicans control the chamber, 53-47, and are all but certain to acquit Trump. It takes just 51 votes during the impeachment trial to approve rules or call witnesses. Just four GOP senators could form a majority with Democrats to insist on new testimony. It also would take only 51 senators to vote to dismiss the charges against Trump.
At Tuesday’s private GOP lunch, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky warned that if witnesses are allowed, defense witnesses could also be called. He and other Republicans want to subpoena Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on the board of a gas company in Ukraine, Burisma, while his father was vice president.
McConnell is drafting an organizing resolution that will outline the steps ahead. Approving it will be among their first votes of the trial, likely next Tuesday.
He prefers to model Trump’s trial partly on the process used for then-President Bill Clinton’s trial in 1999. It, too, contained motions for dismissal or calling new witnesses.
McConnell is hesitant to call new witnesses who would prolong the trial and put vulnerable senators who are up for reelection in 2020 in a bind with tough choices. At the same time, he wants to give those same senators ample room to show voters they are listening to demands for a fair trial.
Most Republicans now appear willing to go along with McConnell’s plan to start the trial first then consider witnesses later, rather than upfront, as Democrats want.
Even if senators are able to vote to call new witnesses, it is not at all clear there would be majorities to subpoena Bolton or the others.
Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Andrew Taylor and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report. The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul contributed to this report.