Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday inaugurated a seven-member team to prosecute President Donald Trump at his impeachment trial in the Senate.
The team will be headed by the former prosecutor who has become a nemesis of the Republican president.
After weeks of delay, the House is expected on Wednesday afternoon to send the two impeachment charges passed in December against Mr Trump to the Senate.
This will clear the way for the trial that will determine whether he is removed from office to start in earnest next week.
The weeks-long trial in the Senate – controlled by Mr Trump’s fellow Republicans – is expected to ultimately end in his acquittal, leaving him in office.
But it will focus attention on Mr Trump’s request that Ukraine investigates domestic political rival, Joe Biden, as the 2020 presidential campaign heats up.
Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, 59, will lead the House “managers” who will put the case to senators that Mr Trump should be ousted for pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden and obstructing Congress.
Mr Schiff spearheaded the House impeachment investigation into Mr Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and is a frequent target of Trump attacks.
The president called Mr Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, “a deranged human being” at a NATO meeting in Britain in December.
Other managers include Jerrold Nadler, 72, who crafted the two articles of impeachment against Mr Trump, as House Judiciary Committee chairman.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the prosecutors were selected for their ability to make an effective case.
“The emphasis is making the strongest possible case to protect and defend our Constitution, to seek the truth for the American people,” Ms Pelosi told a news conference.
Mr Biden is one of 12 candidates vying for the Democratic nomination to face Mr Trump in the November 3 election, and the trial might still be underway when Iowa and New Hampshire hold their first party nominating contests in early February.
Not one of the Senate’s 53 Republicans has voiced support for ousting Trump, a step that would require a two-thirds majority in the 100-member chamber.
The managers are Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Hakeem Jeffries, Val Demings, Jason Crow and Sylvia Garcia. Schiff and Nadler, in particular, have been lead figures on impeachment so far.
Mr Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, will be the lead manager.
“The emphasis is on litigators. The emphasis is on the comfort level in the courtroom.
“The emphasis is making the strongest possible case to protect and defend our constitution to seek the truth for the American people,” Pelosi said.
The choice of managers appeared also intended to reflect ethnic, gender and geographical diversity.
White House reacts
Meanwhile, the White House on Wednesday dismissed the naming of the seven.
“The naming of these managers does not change a single thing,” said White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham in a statement.
“President Trump has done nothing wrong.
“He looks forward to having the due process rights in the Senate that Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats denied to him, and expects to be fully exonerated.”
“The emphasis is on litigators. The emphasis is on the comfort level in the courtroom. The emphasis is making the strongest possible case to protect and defend our constitution to seek the truth for the American people,” Ms Pelosi said.
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