As Trump’s Impeachment Trial Starts, Pelosi and Pence in Israel for Holocaust Forum

The House speaker tapped several lawmakers to present the case against the president, and the VP’s presence isn’t considered a necessity at every stage of the trial either

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after signing the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Capitol Hill, January 15, 2020.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP

WASHINGTON – As U.S. President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial begins in the Senate this week, both the vice president and the House speaker will be in Israel to take part in the fifth World Holocaust Forum.

Nancy Pelosi has already arrived in Israel on Tuesday, while Mike Pence is due to arrive late this week to attend the event organized by President Reuven Rivlin and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum.

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While Pelosi led the impeachment process against Trump in the House, she has appointed several lawmakers as “impeachment managers” to present the case against the president to the Senate. Thus her presence is not a necessity at every stage of the trial.

As for Pence, while he holds a tie-breaking vote in the Senate and could potentially be asked to use it at some point during the deliberations, it’s not very likely that his absence will have any impact on the trial. After spending two days in Israel, Pence will stop in Italy for an official visit on his way back to Washington.

Last week, the White House confirmed Pence’s participation, and on Monday it was confirmed that Pelosi will lead a delegation of senior members of the House of Representatives.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaking at a campaign event in Kissimmee, Florida, January 16, 2020.
AP / John Raoux

Pelosi is joined by several senior U.S. representatives who are Jewish, including five Democrats: Eliot Engel of New York, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee; Ted Deutch of Florida; Brad Schneider of Illinois; and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.

Also accompanying Pelosi are Rep. Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina. Before heading to Israel, the delegation visited the former Auschwitz concentration camp that the Nazis set up in German-occupied Poland in 1940. Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army 75 years ago this week.

“It is an honor to lead a distinguished bipartisan delegation to Poland and Israel to solemnly commemorate the horrors of the Shoah and to reaffirm America’s enduring commitment to our sacred pledge: Never Again,” Pelosi said in a statement Monday.

“In the face of rising anti-Semitism and appalling acts of bigotry around the world, we must all renew our determination to defend human rights and human dignity. May the lives of all lost in the Shoah continue to be a source of moral action to the world today.”

Another senior White House official expected to arrive in Israel this week is Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Kushner will likely attend some of the Holocaust commemoration events, but his main task will be to discuss with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the option of releasing the Trump administration’s plan for Middle East peace ahead of Israel’s March 2 election.

Also, Netanyahu’s main rival, Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz, is expected to meet with Pelosi during her visit to Israel but not with Pence.

Other world leaders in Jerusalem for the World Holocaust Forum include Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Trump is also leaving Washington on Monday. He will spend most of the week at Davos, Switzerland, where he will attend the World Economic Forum and meet with other world leaders at the annual gathering.

The administration’s much-awaited Middle East peace plan is expected to come up in some of those conversations, especially in meetings with leaders of Arab countries. Trump will ask for their views on the plan and the option of releasing it in the next few weeks.