“The emphasis is on litigators, the emphasis is on comfort in the courtroom,” Pelosi said of her selections.
Here’s who they are and why Pelosi probably picked them for the most consequential part of the entire impeachment process.
Adam B. Schiff, House Intelligence Committee chairman and lead manager
Why Pelosi probably picked him: When Pelosi embraced an impeachment inquiry into Trump in September, she chose Schiff to be the Democrats’ face of it. From 2017 to 2019, the California congressman battled with the Trump administration and his allies in the House as the top Democrat on the Republican-led committee investigating Russian election interference, and the close Pelosi ally has been in lockstep with the speaker since they retook the majority. Schiff has displayed a knack for distilling complicated subjects clearly and a willingness to go after Trump’s soft spots, like his campaign’s connections to Russia. Schiff’s role in the impeachment inquiry made him more of a recognizable national figure.
Schiff has been a member of Congress for nearly two decades, and on the Intelligence Committee he frequently handles sensitive matters and government secrets. Before becoming a member of Congress, he was a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, where he prosecuted several high-profile cases.
His big moment on impeachment so far: All of them. Four committees were involved in this process, but it was Schiff, through his committee, that led the bulk of the impeachment inquiry. He was the ultimate overseer of subpoena decisions, Democrats’ strategy on fighting the White House for information, and persuading current and former national security officials to defy the White House bans and talk to Congress. He led depositions of those witnesses for weeks behind closed doors, and his committee was the one that held public hearings with a dozen witnesses that shaped what the nation knows about Trump’s intentions on Ukraine.
The committee reported on what it found, alleging that Trump “subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential reelection campaign.”
Schiff emerged relatively unscathed from being the face of Democrats’ opposition to the GOP-led committee’s Russia investigation and then as the face of Democrats’ impeachment of Trump. Early on, Republicans accused him of misleadingly paraphrasing Trump’s Ukraine phone call. (He did paraphrase it, accurately if unnecessarily dramatically.) Schiff also gave a false statement about whether he had a heads-up that an explosive whistleblower complaint existed, knowledge that gave him a tactical advantage when pressing the administration to release it. Republicans and Trump have made him the object of their criticism perhaps more than Pelosi, even as Schiff’s investigation bore out many of the allegations in the whistleblower complaint.
Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
Why Pelosi probably picked him: The New York Democrat leads the committee traditionally in charge of impeachment. He took Schiff’s impeachment inquiry down the home stretch, turning it into actual impeachment by helping draft the two articles of impeachment against Trump, and then debating and passing them out of his committee for the full House to eventually approve.
Nadler has served in Congress for nearly three decades and has plenty of scars to show for it: from battling the National Security Agency on wiretapping Americans, being an outspoken opponent of recent police brutality cases in New York, and writing the House Democrats’ amicus briefs in two major Supreme Court cases on same-sex marriage, Nadler knows his way around a contentious fight. He and Trump also have a feud going back decades over Nadler’s opposing a development Trump wanted in New York City. Nadler was in Congress for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, as well, and was an outspoken opponent of it, earning him national attention.
His big moment on impeachment so far: Shepherding the articles of impeachment through Congress, which first had to survive a 14-hour debate in his committee. Democrats were on a tight, self-imposed timeline to pass the articles before the Christmas break, lest they be accused of trying to impeach a president in an election year.
Zoe Lofgren, chair of the House Committee on House Administration
Why Pelosi probably picked her: The California Democrat is a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and is serving her 13th term in Congress. She is one of the most experienced members of Congress on impeachment. She was a Judiciary Committee staffer during the President Richard M. Nixon impeachment proceedings and a member of the Judiciary Committee during the Clinton impeachment. Also, the committee she leads has experience overseeing presidential elections.
Her big moment on impeachment: It came when the Judiciary Committee was debating the articles of impeachment. Republicans tried to argue that the president should be accused of a crime to be impeached, because Clinton was impeached for things that matched up to the criminal code, like perjury. Lofgren tried to reframe that argument to say what Trump is accused of is more serious: “Somehow lying about a sexual affair is an abuse of presidential power, but the misuse of presidential power to get a benefit somehow doesn’t matter?” she said, in a comment that got picked up in national media.
Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus
Why Pelosi probably picked him: The New York Democrat is the No. 5 in the House leadership and a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Pelosi has said he was “an accomplished litigator in private practice” before running for office, and he has experience with the other side of the courtroom from when he clerked for a federal judge in New York.
His big moment on impeachment: During the full House debate on impeaching Trump, Jeffries tried to connect the moment to major civil rights moments, arguing impeachment was more of a unifier than a divider and that Republicans were on the wrong side of history:
There are some who cynically argue that the impeachment of this president will further divide an already fractured union. But there is a difference between division and clarification. Slavery once divided the nation, but emancipation rose up to clarify that all men are created equally. Suffrage once divided the nation, but women rose up to clarify that all voices must be heard in our democracy. Jim Crow once divided the nation, but civil rights champions rose up to clarify that all are entitled to equal protection under the law. There is a difference between division and clarification.
Val Demings, member of the Intelligence and Judiciary committees
Why Pelosi probably picked her: The Florida Democrat is one of a few newer members of Congress to be named manager; she’s serving her second term. She was the first female police chief in Orlando, and on Wednesday, Pelosi cited her law enforcement background as a strength. Demings is also probably familiar with the evidence, given that she sat on both committees that handled the major public-facing parts of impeachment.
Her big moment on impeachment: She had a couple. Early on, she managed to get two diplomats to confirm that they didn’t think Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, was serving U.S. interests with his work in Ukraine. Then, as the Judiciary Committee was debating its articles of impeachment, Demings gave one of the most moving, emotional speeches of the two-day process. She spoke about growing up in Florida as a poor black girl and how her American Dream story could work only in a nation of laws: “I come before you tonight as an African American female. I come before you tonight as a descendant of slaves. Slaves who knew they would not make it but dreamed and prayed that one day I would make it. I come before you tonight proclaiming that in spite of America’s complicated history, my faith is in the Constitution.”
Jason Crow, member of the House Armed Services Committee
Why Pelosi probably picked him: The Democrat from Colorado is in his first term as Congress. Before Congress, he served as an Army Ranger, leading combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also partner in a law firm in Colorado. According to the Almanac of American Politics, he wasn’t a prosecutor, but he “conducted internal investigations nationwide, responded to emergency events and handled a wide-range of government inquiries.” He also represents the kind of district — a suburban one in a swing state — that Democrats will need to hold onto in November to keep their majorities.
His big impeachment moment: He is the only manager who does not sit on any of the impeachment inquiry committees, but he had a role in swaying Pelosi to authorize the impeachment inquiry. He was one of seven House freshmen with national security backgrounds who co-authored a Washington Post op-ed calling Trump’s actions on Ukraine impeachable, a move that signaled a significant momentum shift within the Democratic caucus. Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry a day after that published.
Sylvia Garcia, member of the House Judiciary Committee
Why Pelosi probably picked her: The first-term Texas Democrat was a municipal judge in Houston, became the first woman and Latina elected to the Harris County Commissioner’s Court and then she became a state senator. In 2018, she became one of the first Latinas elected to Congress from Texas, alongside fellow Latina Veronica Escobar (D).
Her big impeachment moment: In addition to serving on the Judiciary Committee and debating the articles of impeachment, Garcia was a guest on cable TV, including Fox News, defending House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry from Republican attacks. “I did not come to Congress to impeach the president, I did not come to Congress to have to sit in these type of hearings. I’m just a country kid from South Texas who believes in the American Dream and believes in our democracy and the Constitution,” she told Fox’s Neil Cavuto in December.