What is an impeachment manager and what do they do?

  • In Politics
  • 2020-01-14 18:58:56Z
What is an impeachment manager and what do they do?
What is an impeachment manager and what do they do?  

The lawmakers chosen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve as managers during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump will get a distinction earned by only a few people in history.

Not to mention, the stakes are high for Pelosi's selection of a small, exclusive group of managers. Their presentations before the Senate are among Democrats' last chances to persuade Republicans - and the American public - on the merits of impeachment.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on a resolution naming the impeachment managers on Wednesday, therefore starting off the process of sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Congressional rules specify that "managers," members of the House whose roles are similar to prosecutors, are tasked with presenting the case for impeachment to the Senate. The trial will determine whether Trump should be convicted and removed from office. Removal requires a two-thirds majority vote, or 67 votes.

The House approved two articles of impeachment against Trump on Dec. 18 for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The charges stem from allegations Trump pressured Ukraine to open politically motivated investigations and that he stonewalled the investigation.

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There have only been two other impeachment trials in the nation's history so the historical precedent for the process and managers' roles is sparse.

Here is what you need to know about the managers:

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Who are the managers?

Managers are members of the House of Representatives.

In the past, all of the impeachment managers have been from the same party because they generally all supported the impeachment of the president. It is likely that all of the managers for Trump's impeachment will be Democrats, as almost all Democrats voted for the articles of impeachment in the House, and all Republicans voted against the articles.

Pelosi might try to appeal to the diversity of the Democratic caucus in her approach to picking managers, given that the trial takes place in an election year.

"I think the managers will represent people who could potentially hold appeal in both purple House districts and to the handful of undecided voters in swing states," said Democratic strategist Michael Gordon.

An ideal choice of manager, Gordon said, would be a "credible, least partisan-seeming" member, whereas a less ideal choice would be an "overly partisan" member who would "not really be open to the facts."

One risk in choosing managers, noted Joe Lockhart, a former press secretary to Bill Clinton during his impeachment, is that congressional politics might win out over the most qualified managers.

"You could go, for example, with committee chairs and you could go by seniority," he explained. "And that doesn't necessarily give you the most effective prosecution."

How are managers picked?

Pelosi will choose the managers.

Under the rules passed for Trump's impeachment, a separate resolution will be introduced in the House of Representatives to appoint managers for the Senate trial.

Historically, managers were picked for their legal experience, or for their skills of argumentation. They were traditionally all members of the House Judiciary Committee because it led past impeachments.

"A number of those, and I'm not one of those, were former U.S. Attorneys, and had fairly recently become members of the Congress and then of the House Judiciary Committee," explained Bill McCollum, a former congressman from Florida and a Clinton impeachment manager. McCollum was a senior member of the Judiciary Committee at the time.

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How many managers are there?

The number of managers varies depending on the trial.

There were seven managers for President Andrew Johnson's impeachment in 1868, and 13 managers for Clinton's impeachment.

James Rogan, a former Republican congressman from California who served as an impeachment manager during the Clinton impeachment, said he had suggested four managers for Clinton's impeachment, with each manager presenting an article of impeachment. The Judiciary Committee had drafted four articles of impeachment against Clinton, though the full House only passed two articles. In the end, however, then-Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde, R-Ill., picked 13 managers.

Hyde died in 2007, but Rogan recalled Hyde telling him after all the managers were picked, "Everybody on the committee that asked if they could be the House manager. I told him, I couldn't say no."

The number of managers for Trump's impeachment trial has not yet been determined.

More: Republicans, Democrats in Congress remain at impasse on articles of impeachment against Trump

What responsibilities do impeachment managers have?

A manager's role is similar to prosecutor's in a criminal trial.

The managers will present the case for impeachment while members of the Senate serve as jurors. The chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, will preside over the trial and the president's lawyers will serve as his defense attorneys.

Rogan said the managers in that trial all adopted separate roles in presenting the evidence against Clinton.

"I ended up basically making the presentation on perjury. (Rep. Asa) Hutchinson handled the presentation on obstruction of justice," Rogan recalled. Rogan said he gave a two-hour-long opening statement on Clinton's alleged crime of perjury for lying under oath about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Rogan was also responsible for cross-examining Clinton, but he never came and testified before the Senate.

If past precedent is any prediction of the trial, managers are unlikely to change senators' minds about impeachment or the impeachment trial process.

Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, a Clinton impeachment manager, said that he and the other managers were presenting to senators who had mostly made up their minds.

"You know beforehand that a fair number, if not all of them have either come to a conclusion before the thing even starts or certainly are biased in one direction or another," Chabot told USA TODAY.

How long do managers get to present?

During the Clinton impeachment, both the impeachment managers and the president's lawyers had 24 hours each to present. Senators were then given 16 hours to question either side.

The amount of time given during the Trump trial has not been specified.

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Do managers control the format of a trial?

Impeachment managers do not control how a trial runs. Instead, the format and rules for a trial are left to the Senate, which can introduce and pass motions on trial rules by a simple majority of 51 votes, as opposed to the two-thirds majority required to convict and remove a president from office. The managers instead present the evidence for the trial.

Democrats want to be able to call witnesses during the trial, but in past impeachments, the Senate voted against calling witnesses to testify directly.

"I think she can name managers that can make the case through the power of fair presentation that we need the witnesses," said Lockhart, who added that the managers' presentation at the beginning of Clinton's impeachment trial helped ensure Republicans had the votes to call witnesses later in the trial, albeit as videotaped depositions rather than live testimony.

What happens to the managers after?

For some members of Congress, being selected as an impeachment manager can be a good opportunity because of the high visibility of the position.

Only three of the 13 managers from Clinton's impeachment are still in Congress: Chabot, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Chabot said Democrats brought Hillary and Bill Clinton to his Cincinnati-area district to raise money for his opponents. He has won every election since then.

That said, "It's certainly hurt the congressional career of least one member that I can think of," explained Chabot.

That member was Rogan, who lost to then-California state Sen. Adam Schiff in the 2000 election. Schiff has been a prominent figure in Trump's impeachment as the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump impeachment: What is an impeachment manager and what do they do?


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