Pelosi's choice: Get ready for a couple of familiar faces as impeachment managers

Having lost the battle with Mitch McConnell over impeachment, Nancy Pelosi must now prepare to lose the war as well. Now that she has dropped her efforts to use leverage to control the Senate trial process, Pelosi has to take the next step in sending the articles to the upper chamber. That means picking the House Democrats best able to sell the case to a hostile Republican majority.

That might get done as soon as tomorrow, CNN reports. It won’t be any sooner than that, because that would create problems for a few Senate Democrats:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to name the lawmakers who will prosecute the case against President Donald Trump as early as Tuesday, according to several House Democrats, as the venue for impeachment on Capitol Hill shifts over to the Senate for the impeachment trial in the coming days.

Pelosi is holding a meeting with her caucus Tuesday morning where she’s expected to discuss the path forward on sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Members also expect a vote on the resolution to approve the impeachment managers and send the articles of impeachment to the Senate to potentially take place Wednesday.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House vote to name the impeachment managers “could be” on Wednesday, adding that the Senate has “practical problems” if they were to move sooner since three Democratic senators are participating in the presidential debate.

According to the rules of the Senate, all members must make themselves present upon receipt of articles of impeachment. Whether that means when managers or named is probably an open question, but Pelosi doesn’t want to take any chances that the three senators in tonight’s debate might get forced off the stage due to a poor decision on timing. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy already suggested over the weekend that Pelosi’s futile stunt was an attempt to help out Joe Biden at Bernie Sanders’ expense, a potent charge considering how much the DNC did last cycle to derail Sanders. The selection of managers can wait one more day to avoid that minefield.

She still has to step through another minefield, though. Who will Pelosi send to the Senate to make the House’s case in this highly charged partisan atmosphere? Hoyer’s not saying, but Bloomberg reported yesterday that they’re likely to be the two most responsible for ionizing the partisan atmosphere in the first place:

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff will likely be top names on the prosecution team in Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, according to a lawmaker on the House Democratic leadership team.

“Talented group, obviously with Adam Schiff and Nadler — one would expect them,” Representative Dan Kildee of Michigan said Monday on CNN Monday as he talked about who Pelosi might choose as House managers to prosecute the case in the Senate impeachment trial.

Another House official familiar with Pelosi’s thinking confirms that Nadler and Schiff are both likely to be appointed.

Kildee said he didn’t know yet who else will fill out the House managers’ roster. The complete list is expected to be approved in a House floor vote, as part of the process of transmitting the two articles of impeachment to the Senate.

A “talented group”? Both Nadler and Schiff bumbled their way through the Russia-collusion narrative, with both ending up with egg on their faces when Robert Mueller concluded that there was no evidence suggesting that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia at all. The two then had the task of building up public confidence in impeachment with high-profile hearings, none of which moved the needle even a jot or tittle in that direction over the last three months. Rather than use a systematic and credible process, the two men presided over one-sided, hysterical hearings full of speculative testimony and completely devoid of either evidence or direct testimony to any wrongdoing.

A “talented group,” indeed.

Since Pelosi put them in charge of this clown show, she has little choice but to use them as managers now, but Pelosi has to know what’s coming next. This presents Republicans with a golden opportunity to turn the tables on the House. They have already decided not to vote for an immediate dismissal, which means they will have a trial. The question will be which defendant will have to answer for himself, and it might not end up being Donald J. Trump.

Senate Republicans champed at the bit for their turn to deal with House Democrats’ process, and having Nadler and Schiff walk into their well finally provides them the opportunity. Both House managers will be forced to answer questions about how they ended up there in the first place, and neither of them will have a pleasant time doing it.  Schiff in particular will likely walk into a firestorm over the rules he put in place for his Intelligence Committee hearings, plus have to answer at length about his and his staff’s dealings with the “whistleblower” that triggered the impeachment probe in the first place. Some of the Senate Republican caucus wanted Schiff called as a witness, and might still get their way, but the presentment will give them lots of opportunities to make Schiff pay for his high-handedness in the committee hearings.

Senate Republicans might not move for an immediate dismissal, but having Schiff and Nadler on the floor with these articles might convince 51 of them to dismiss after the presentment. Pelosi has to know that their presence will galvanize Senate Republicans after the nonsense of October and November, but she just doesn’t have any choice in the matter. Alea iacta est, one might even say.

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