Crossing what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called “a very important threshold in American history,” Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday officially delivered the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate, setting up his trial.
Trump, 73, has officially been accused of abuse of power and obstruction in connection with the Ukraine scandal. A months-long investigation in the House of Representatives broadly corroborated the case against him: that he withheld support of Ukraine’s government to pressure leaders there to investigate his political rivals.
Still, Trump has adamantly insisted he did nothing wrong and on Wednesday, again, labeled his impeachment a “hoax.”
The trial, which will begin with some ceremonial matters on Thursday but is not expected to effectively start until Tuesday, will determine whether Trump is convicted on the charges and removed from office.
He is widely expected to be acquitted, given the Republican majority and the conservative senators who would have to vote against him.
Pelosi, 79, earlier Wednesday named the seven impeachment managers who will lead the trial against Trump, including Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler.
The seven managers, whose roles are analogous to prosecutors at the Senate trial, also include Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Hakeem Jeffries, Val B. Demings, Jason Crow and Sylvia R. Garcia. On Wednesday, they physically walked across the Capitol to bring the impeachment charges to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell received them.
Trump’s impeachment trial marks the third time in U.S. history a sitting president has faced prosecution in the Senate.
The House votes to impeach Trump and proceed with the case to trial have been almost entirely along party lines.
Trump was impeached by the House on Dec. 18, but Pelosi opted for works not to deliver the two articles of impeachment to the Senate over concerns about how the Republican majority there would conduct the trial.
Last month, McConnell said he would be working in “total coordination” with the White House, drawing the ire of Democrats and even disturbing some Republican lawmakers. The two sides have clashed over whether the impeachment trial will include witnesses and evidence, as Republicans have been clear about their desire to quickly resolve the matter.
Conviction would require the votes of nearly two dozen Republican senators. But many of them have said they are reluctant to proceed with a case against the president, contending his impeachment amounts to a revenge scheme by liberals following the 2016 election.
Pelosi and other Democrats are seeking additional witnesses, while earlier this month a former Trump administration national security advisor, John Bolton, released a statement saying he would testify in the Senate if called upon. The House investigation continues to produce documents that underlines the case against Trump, which Democrats say strengthens their call for the need to include new material in the trial.
Trump has publicly complained about what he calls an “unfair” impeachment since the investigation began last September.
“Why should I have the stigma of Impeachment attached to my name when I did NOTHING wrong?” he tweeted on Sunday.
Pelosi has argued otherwise, telling George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week on Sunday that Trump would always have the asterisk of impeachment attached to his presidency regardless of whether he’s removed from office.
“This president is impeached for life,” Pelosi said, adding, “We’ve done our job. We have defended the Constitution of the United States. We would hope that the Senate would do that as well.”
No president has ever been removed from office over impeachment.
Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both acquitted after they were impeached, while President Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached and face trial for his part in the Watergate scandal.
House Democrats say their investigation found Trump had been withholding some $400 million in military aid from Ukraine while pressuring Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to dig into former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s family as well as probe an unfounded conspiracy theory about Ukrainian tampering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Democrats also say the Trump administration tried to cover up wrongdoing, moving transcripts of a Trump phone call with Zelensky in July and refusing to send top officials to testify before House investigators.
Biden is the front-runner to challenge Trump in the 2020 election.
Trump has repeatedly claimed he’s done nothing wrong while his administration has tried to brand the impeachment as a Democratic “witch hunt.”