In a dramatic procession across the U.S. Capitol, House Democrats carried the formal articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate, setting the stage for only the third trial to remove a president in American history.
Trump complained anew Wednesday that it was all a “hoax,” even as fresh details emerged about his efforts in Ukraine.
The ceremonial pomp and protocol by the lawmakers prosecuting the case against Trump moved the impeachment out of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic-run House to the Republican-majority Senate, where the president’s team is mounting a defense aiming for swift acquittal.
“Today we will make history,” Pelosi said as she signed the documents, using multiple pens to hand out and mark the moment. “This president will be held accountable.”
Moments later the prosecutors walked solemnly through the stately hall, filing into the Senate back row as the clerk of the House announced the arrival: “The House has passed House Resolution 798, a resolution appointing and authorizing managers of the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump, president of United States.”
The Senate will transform itself into an impeachment court at noon Thursday. The Constitution calls for Chief Justice John Roberts to preside at the trial, administering the oath to senators who will serve as jurors and swear to deliver “impartial justice.”
The trial will play out before a deeply divided nation at the start of this election year as Trump seeks a second term and voters review his presidency. Three senators are running for the Democratic nomination.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to have the Senate “rise above the petty factionalism” and “factional fervor and serve the long-term, best interests of our nation.” He called it “a difficult time for our country.”
Technically, the House was simply notifying the Senate of its delivery of the articles, with a more formal presentation Thursday. Opening arguments are to begin next Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.