February 8, 2021 Media

NowThis: Meet The Nine Impeachment Managers Working To “Hold Donald Trump Accountable”

In the upcoming trial of former President Donald Trump, House impeachment managers are responsible for prosecuting the case for conviction. With Trump’s trial beginning in the Senate on February 9 — the first time in American history that a president has been put on impeachment trial for a second time — the nine House Democrats charged by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) with making the case have been preparing to present their evidence.

The House charged Trump with “incitement of insurrection” on January 13, one week after the deadly U.S. Capitol riot where insurrectionists waved pro-Trump flags and used his words as cover for their illegal actions.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) is the lead impeachment manager for this trial, and will present the case to the Senate alongside fellow managers Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO), David Cicilline (D-RI), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), and Stacey Plaskett (D-VI).

All nine representatives recently spoke to NowThis about why they believe Trump should be convicted and why it’s critical to proceed with a post-term trial. He is the first president to face a trial after leaving office, and conviction could bar him from holding future office.

“I think it’s clear. If Donald Trump is ever close to power again, he will do this again,” Swalwell told NowThis. “He has such a reckless disregard for public safety, a disdain for democracy.”

Raskin wrote a letter to Trump inviting him to testify under oath about the events of January 6 “either before or during the Senate impeachment trial,” but he declined via spokesperson Jason Miller, who called the trial “unconstitutional” (it’s not).

What’s an impeachment manager?
“Impeachment managers are literally the prosecutors of this case in the Senate. It’s that simple,” said Dean.

Reps. Plaskett, Raskin, and DeGette explained that the House served the equivalent of a grand jury indictment when they voted to impeach Trump, bringing criminal charges against him. Now, U.S. senators will serve as jurists and either convict or acquit him.

Together, these nine impeachment managers have more than 100 years of legal experience between them. Raskin described the team as composed of “brilliant former prosecutors, former defenders, [and] trial attorneys,” and said that he is “in awe of” the assembled group.

Lieu, who co-drafted the article of impeachment with Raskin and Cicilline, quoted Republican Rep. Liz Cheney (WY) when explaining why the charge is incitement of insurrection. Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted in favor of impeaching Trump; though that number may seem small, it made Trump’s second impeachment the most bipartisan in history.

“It was a violent attack on our Capitol. People died and that is because Donald Trump, in the words of Liz Cheney, ‘summoned the mob, assembled them out and lit the flame of this attack,’” Lieu said.

Cheney has faced a lot of blowback for her vote to impeach from her colleagues, many of them Trump loyalists, as well as from conservative media, but she managed to hold on to her leadership position in a caucus vote on February 3.

“I hope that the senators will consider what’s at stake for the country, that it’s larger than any particular senator or even particular party,” Castro said to NowThis.

In Trump’s first impeachment trial, held just one year ago at this time, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah was the only Republican to vote to convict him, becoming the first senator in all of U.S. history to vote to convict a president of his own party. Democrats are hopeful that more Republicans will follow suit and vote to convict this time given the seriousness of this charge, and that as Raskin said, members of Congress were all there as “witnesses to this high crime and misdemeanor.”

“We simply have to hold Donald Trump accountable and deter future presidents from ever trying something like this again,” Lieu said.

Cicilline added: “You don’t want to set a dangerous precedent [that] as long as you wait to the very end of your term, you can engage in whatever misconduct you want and get away with it.”

Dean agreed. “Accountability is the nuts and bolts of it, and ethics is the higher calling,” she said.

What happens if the Senate convicts Trump?
“It is a statement that he’s convicted, which means he did it. He committed incitement to insurrection against the union,” Raskin explained, adding that if Trump is convicted, the Senate can then conduct a separate vote on whether he should be disqualified from holding “any federal public office” again. (The Senate can bar him from serving in federal office, but does not have jurisdiction over the state level.)

Given there’s already been discussion of Trump possibly running for president again in 2024, barring such a move is key for many Democrats and some Republicans. But a conviction must happen first for disqualification to even be an option.

There would be other consequences for conviction, too, including stripping Trump of his lifetime, taxpayer-funded pension and taxpayer benefits like office staff and office space, according to Lieu.

While calls for “unity” have been mounting from Republicans eager to move on, the impeachment managers are stressing that there is no unity without accountability first.

“History is filled with examples that prove that before you can have healing, you have to have accountability, justice, and truth,” Cicilline said.

“We cannot normalize the conduct of the president, inciting a violent mob to commit insurrection against the union. This is how our civil war actually began,” Raskin said.

DeGette added that “despite all of the assaults on our democracy over the last four years, the fabric held. And this impeachment trial is really the last step in ensuring that we protect our beautiful experiment of America for generations to come.”

Democrats see strength in diversity
Speaker Pelosi selected an entirely new crew of impeachment managers for this trial. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) was the lead manager for Trump’s first trial; as chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff had extensive experience with and knowledge of areas central to that trial: Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and national security issues. The other managers were diverse in terms of age, experience, gender, and race, reflecting “the geographic and demographic diversity of the Democratic caucus,” The New York Times reported.

“I know that the Speaker, in putting this team together, was very interested in that she loves our diversity and she knows it brings us strength,” Dean said.

“It’s not lost on me, the symbolism of having a Black man serve as one of the prosecutors presenting this case to the United States Senate on behalf of not just Congress, but really the American people,” Neguse added. The insurrectionists at the Capitol riot were largely white, with some visibly wearing neo-Nazi paraphernalia or waving Confederate flags.

Plaskett, who is a delegate to the House of Representatives from the U.S. Virgin Islands’ at-large congressional district, similarly spoke about her visibility as a woman of color serving as an impeachment manager.

“I recognize…that I’m an example for them, for young women, young girls of color, and even for those who are not — because as other people who are not of color see our brilliance, our excellence, they recognize that there’s so much we have to offer as well,” Plaskett told NowThis.

“[These] nine managers look like this country,” she continued. “And we are bringing accountability to a man who believed that with his wealth and his whiteness, he is unaccountable to anyone. I want them to hold that image in their mind when they see us arguing this case for the American people.”

Swalwell ended with one more reality check for a public oversaturated with news of Trump’s corrupt dealings.

“My wish for this generation is that they never see a president impeached again in their lifetime. And certainly never seen a president impeached twice within two years,” he said.

“That’s not normal. That’s not supposed to happen in a country as great as ours.”

The impeachment trial will be broadcast live and streamed on NowThis platforms, as well as CSPAN.