U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Houston one of seven named to prosecution team in Senate impeachment trial

Posted at 7:28 PM, Jan 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-18 20:28:41-05

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday that U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Houston will serve as one of the seven Democratic lawmakers who will prosecute the impeachment case against President Donald Trump in the Senate.

These impeachment managers act in a role similar to a prosecutor in a criminal trial. Garcia and the other six House members will attempt to make the case for impeachment in a Senate trial likely to begin next week and try to persuade senators to vote in favor of removing Trump from office.

Only a little over a year into her first term in Congress, the freshman told The Texas Tribune she feels the weight of the "awesome responsibility."

"I will be married to this process for the next two weeks. So no district work for me," she said.

It is a role Garcia said she did not actively seek, but it makes for one of the biggest days of her long political career.

"I wasn’t shocked," Garcia said of the Tuesday call she received from the speaker asking her to take on this task. "It feels sort of a mix of kind of awesome and somber and sad because of what you think about it. This is prosecuting the president of the United States. It’s a defense of the Constitution, a defense of our democracy."

House members anticipate — but are not certain — the coming trial will last at least two weeks, depending on the rules the Senate sets.

A graduate of Texas Southern University Law School, Garcia appeared with Pelosi and the other impeachment managers when the speaker made the announcement. There, Pelosi indicated that she leaned on Garcia because of her judicial background.

"Before Congress, Ms. Garcia served in the Texas State Senate," Pelosi said in her statement. "Previously, Ms. Garcia was the Director and Presiding Judge of the Houston Municipal System and was elected City Controller. Ms. Garcia was later elected the first Hispanic and first woman to be elected in her own right to the Harris County Commissioner’s Court.

The House voted largely along party lines in December to impeach Trump over allegations he used his office to pressure the Ukranian president to investigate a family member of his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. Only the Senate has the power to remove a president with a two-thirds majority vote. It's considered unlikely the Republican-controlled Senate would join with Democrats to remove Trump from office.

Trump is the third U.S. president to be impeached by the House. No president has ever been removed from office by the Senate.

Senate jurors will include Texas' Republican U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, who are likely to serve as fierce defenders of Trump during the trial.

"I'm looking forward to it," Garcia said of making the case to her fellow Texans, noting she has experience in persuasion of the two senators.

She previously testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during her tenure as a state senator. She emphatically called on the Senate to allow witnesses, which is the biggest uncertainty going forward in this process.

Garcia's tone on impeachment has been strikingly more measured than that of many other members of her caucus and within the Texas delegation. She was one of the last Texas Democrats to call for an impeachment inquiry, and she avoided flame-throwing lines of questioning in her role as a House Judiciary Committee member during the inquiry process. But, she said Tuesday, the revelations of Trump's call with the Ukrainian president were "a turning moment for me."

While still in her first term, Garcia said she has known Pelosi for years via the Houston Democratic fundraising circuit.

"It’s not only the position and the awesome responsibility that you have, it’s also knowing the leader of our party, the speaker of the United States of America has faith and trust in you," she said. "I certainly do for her."

The other impeachment officers are U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff of California, Jerry Nadler of New York, Zoe Lofgren of California, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Val Demings of Florida and Jason Crow of Colorado. Schiff, who rose to national prominence as the House Intelligence Committee chairman, will lead the group.

"It’s reflective of the diversity of America and our caucus, not only in terms of gender or ethnicity, but geographically and in capacity of individuals," Garcia said.

All of the managers are lawyers, save for Demings, who had an extensive law enforcement career leading the Orlando Police Department.

The House will vote Wednesday on a resolution naming the impeachment officers, and upon approval, Garcia is expected be among the members to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

“The House has demonstrated its courage and patriotism,” Pelosi said. “Our managers reflect those values, and will now honor their responsibility to defend democracy For The People with great seriousness, solemnity and moral strength.”

Patriotism was a tone Garcia also sought to strike Wednesday.

"I’m always an American first, Texan second," she said.