So it’s established: Speaker Nancy Pelosi reported to her caucus that the House will vote on Wednesday (with a spare five minutes of debate per side) on a resolution that will select impeachment managers who will exhibit the case for Trump’s removal from office in the Senate, empower them to carry the two previously passed articles of impeachment to the upper chamber, and include the costs associated with the trial itself.
The managers (yet to be named, though they will unquestionably involve Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler and Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff) will carry the weight of building the case that in combating new witnesses and new evidence, Senate Republicans are committing a cover-up that confirms one of the two articles of impeachment (involving obstruction of Congress).
The corporal bestowal of the articles of impeachment by the managers, who will travel over to the Senate in what is likely to be a profoundly stylized ritual later this week, opens the Senate portion of the impeachment process. Once that happens, the standing rules of the Senate for impeachment trials kick in, with the swearing in of Chief Justice John Roberts and of the senators themselves, which will plausibly happen next Tuesday after the observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The initial order of business after the trial starts will be the passage of a comprehensive trial-rules package, likely on a strict party-line vote, which will endeavor to delay decisions on evidence and witnesses until after the House managers and the president’s attorneys have presented their cases (though Democrats are almost unquestionably going to challenge that stipulation as a violation of the standing rules — which can only be amended by 67 votes — and appeal to Roberts to make rulings on witnesses an evidence). Things could heat up pretty fast.
Among reoccurring dilemmas is whether Trump will inspire one of his Senate subordinates to propose an immediate motion to dismiss the articles of impeachment before the trial really starts, or alternatively, before fights over witnesses arise.