Two New Yorkers will help lead the prosecution of President Donald Trump during his impeachment trial. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Hakeem Jeffries as two of the seven impeachment managers in the president’s Senate trial – which means they’ll be playing prosecutor on live TV for the American public.
An impeachment manager is essentially what it sounds like: someone who manages impeachment charges once they’ve been sent to the U.S. Senate. Nadler, Jeffries and the five other managers will effectively act as prosecutors in the trial.
Nadler’s selection was unsurprising, given that he is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which originates articles of impeachment. Jeffries, as chair of the House Democratic Caucus, is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the lower chamber. The other five impeachment managers are Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California, Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, Rep. Val Demings, of Florida, Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, of California. Nadler, from Manhattan, hails from the same borough where Trump has lived for decades, while Jeffries, from Brooklyn, represents a borough in which Trump’s father built the family business that he inherited.
The impeachment managers will present the House’s case, arguing why Trump should be removed from office, while Trump’s lawyers will act as the defense. The Senate serves as the jury, one that should listen to all the evidence through unbiased ears and then vote based on that evidence. Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over the trial, although the Senate has powers closer to those of a judge in a traditional criminal trial. If 67 senators – two-thirds of the chamber – vote to remove Trump from office, we’ll be saying hello to President Mike Pence.
Although an impeachment trial is not the same as a criminal trial, the two share similarities. And while neither Nadler nor Jeffries have ever been prosecutors, both have law degrees that they’ll be able to put to good use. The managers will likely make their case first over several days. This part of the trial will be where Nadler and Jeffries will shine the most, and when they’ll have the best chance at convincing senators that Trump’s actions warrant removal from office. Their opening statement may not compare to those made by Jack McCoy on “Law and Order,” but it’ll still likely capture the nation’s attention. Just don’t expect anyone to dramatically yell “Objection!”
After the defense makes their arguments, the Senate will have the option to dismiss the charges, or to subpoena new witnesses, generally at the request of either the impeachment managers or the defense. Whether the Senate will call witnesses has been a divisive issue, as Democrats have said it’s necessary while Senate Majority McConnell has indicated that he would not allow it. Trump has suggested that his defense team may ask the Senate to subpoena witnesses that will bolster their case as well. Either way, witness depositions would happen behind closed doors, so the viewing public shouldn’t expect dramatic cross-examinations from Nadler or Jeffries.
Finally, if the Senate does not dismiss the charges outright, both sides will make their closing arguments, one last oratory hurrah from the New York managers and their colleagues before the Senate deliberates.
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