PLATTSBURGH — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s delay on initiating procedures to send articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate had run its course, according to SUNY Plattsburgh professor Dr. Harvey Schantz.
Schantz, whose focuses include U.S. national politics and Congress, argued that this was to the benefit of the Democrats’ cause, “as the media, public and Republican senators scrutinized the impending Senate procedures, especially with respect to the calling of witnesses and developments that occurred such as (former National Security Advisor John) Bolton’s offer to testify and the uncovering of administration documents.”
Pelosi announced that she had selected seven impeachment trial managers — who will serve as prosecutors in the Senate trial — Wednesday morning: House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-California), who will serve as lead manager; House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.); House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-California); House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.); Rep. Val Demings (D-Florida); Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colorado); and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas).
In former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, all 13 managers — including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) — were members of the House Judiciary Committee.
By contrast, two of the managers Pelosi selected, Schiff and Crow, do not sit on the Judiciary Committee.
“In picking the managers, Pelosi sought prosecutorial and judicial experience, as well as ensuring racial and gender diversity,” Schantz said.
He remarked that Schiff, Nadler and Lofgren were obvious choices, noting that Lofgren has participated in all three modern presidential impeachments, including time as a staff member during former President Richard Nixon’s impeachment procedures.
“The only surprise manager is Jason Crow of Colorado, who defeated a GOP incumbent in 2018,” Schantz said.
“Pelosi picked him because he is among seven Democrats from marginal districts, all with national security or military backgrounds, who called for impeachment and made it possible for the Democratic Party to move forward.”
Schantz said the Senate will set equal time limits for the House managers and the president’s defense, as it did in Clinton’s trial.
“The Senate held a bipartisan meeting prior to the impeachment trial of Clinton and it served to dampen partisan feelings and set the procedures, helping the Senate maintain its decorum.”
Shortly after Pelosi named the impeachment managers, North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) tweeted that Schiff and Hunter Biden should be the first two witnesses called, and included a link to donate to her campaign.
“Fight back against Schiff’s Regime of Secrecy!” the WinRed page reads. “Donate now to stand up with Elise for our President and our country.”
The House’s impeachment inquiry had sought to answer the question of whether Trump had wrongfully withheld almost $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for the country’s president, Volodymyr Zenesky, announcing investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
On whether there is a precedent for using impeachment as a campaign fundraising opportunity, Schantz pointed to Clinton impeachment manager James Rogan’s loss to Schiff in 2000.
As one of the most expensive House races that year, the contest “shows that marginally elected House managers out of step with their constituency run electoral risks and that impeachment politics is a fundraising opportunity.”
Schantz referred back to Stefanik’s current race against Tedra Cobb, in which both candidates “have raised unprecedented funds due to impeachment politics.”
Earlier this month, Stefanik’s campaign reported raising $3.2 million in the final quarter of 2019 to the Cobb campaign’s $2.05 million.
Cobb’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment regarding the House taking steps to send the articles to the Senate.
Wednesday afternoon, the House voted along party lines to pass a resolution approving the managers and allowing for transmittal of the impeachment articles — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — to the Senate.
Stefanik spokeswoman Madison Anderson confirmed that the congresswoman voted no on the resolution.
After Pelosi signed the articles, the managers delivered them to the Senate.
Once they arrived, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) outlined how the proceedings will continue Thursday.
At noon, the Senate will receive the managers so they may present and exhibit the articles.
Two hours later, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is set to be sworn in.
Whether the Senate will call witnesses and develop new material in the impeachment process is the biggest question, Schantz said.
Calling witnesses would open up a Pandora’s box for the Senate, he continued, since the Democrats would like to hear Bolton and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s testimony, while the Republicans would want to call Joe and Hunter Biden as well as Schiff.
“The calling of witnesses, however, can only help the Democrats because without additional evidence there are not 67 votes to remove the president.
“Witnesses introduce uncertainty into the proceedings and could lead to insight that undermines support for Trump.
“The Republicans, therefore, cannot risk Bolton stirring up the proceedings.”
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