Eight Republican members of the House of Representatives have been tapped to serve on President Donald Trump’s impeachment team during his Senate trial, the White House announced on Monday.
The group of lawmakers is largely made up of conservative firebrands—like Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows—who have been outspoken critics of impeachment and loyal supporters of the president.
The GOP leadership previously sparred over whether to include House members in the president’s impeachment team, as many feared the lawmakers would lack the right temperament for the trial. Senator John Cornyn told reporters earlier this month that the upper chamber wants to avoid the “circus-like atmosphere of the House.”
“So I think it seems obvious to me that if the president picks a team that does not include House members, that we’d be more likely to have the dignified process that the Constitution calls for,” Cornyn said.
Senator Lindsey Graham told the press earlier this month that he also didn’t think it was “wise” to include House GOP members in the process and that “we need to elevate the argument beyond party politics.”
But the White House backed the decision to include the Republican members, saying in a statement that they “have provided guidance to the White House team, which was prohibited from participating in the proceedings concocted by Democrats in the House of Representatives,” and would continue to do so in the Senate.
“The President looks forward to their continued participation and is confident that the Members will help expeditiously end this brazen political vendetta on behalf of the American people,” the White House added.
The Senate trial officially kicked off on Tuesday, over a month since the House voted to impeach Trump on two articles: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Democrats allege that the president tried to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate a potential political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, in exchange for the release of nearly $400 million in military aid. Trump has denied the charges.
Here’s everything you need to know about the eight House Republicans on Trump’s team.
Who They Are:
Doug Collins of Georgia
Mike Johnson of Louisiana
Jim Jordan of Ohio
Debbie Lesko of Arizona
Mark Meadows of North Carolina
John Ratcliffe of Texas
Elise Stefanik of New York
Lee Zeldin of New York
What They’ll Do:
While the White House did not specify exactly what the members would be doing, it is not likely that they will speak on the Senate floor during the trial. That job will be left to the rest of Trump’s legal defense, which will be led by White House counsel Pat Cipollone. Other members of the legal team include Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow, former independent counsel Ken Starr (who led the investigation into President Bill Clinton) and Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz.
But the eight Republicans can make an impact by advising the White House and speaking to the media. Nearly all of the lawmakers chosen sit on the three House committees that were most involved with the chamber’s impeachment inquiry and therefore will be well versed in the case that will be presented by the Democrat-appointed impeachment managers.
What They’ve Said About Trump’s Impeachment:
Jordan has been one of the most outspoken critics of impeachment over the past few months. The Ohio Republican has repeatedly defended Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, arguing that there was no quid pro quo or pressure arrangement. In December, Jordan introduced an amendment to abolish the “abuse of power” article of impeachment against Trump, but the measure was voted down.
Collins was a key figure in pushing back against impeachment, especially during the House’s impeachment hearings, as the top Republican on that chamber’s Judiciary Committee. After being named to Trump’s impeachment team, Collins tweeted that he was “honored to continue fighting” for the president and that impeachment “has been a sham since day one.”
Representatives Lesko, Stefanik and Zeldin also served as important voices for the president during the House’s hearings. Stefanik was lauded by her fellow Republicans for her pointed questioning of former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. After the hearing, Trump tweeted that “a new Republican Star is born.”
Johnson, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said on Monday that he expects the Senate trial will be conducted “pretty rapid” and that the president will be exonerated. In response to being named to Trump’s impeachment team, the Louisiana Republican said “it’s not about image, it’s about ensuring that the American people get the true facts.”
Ratcliffe appeared on Fox News on Tuesday to defend the president as the Senate voted on a resolution to start the trial. Ratcliffe argued that the Democrats “can’t make constitutional arguments because they don’t have any” and that “this impeachment fails.”