AP NEWS

Trump eyes 2 House Republicans for impeachment legal team

January 7, 2020 GMT
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Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican House members John Ratcliffe and Jim Jordan are being considered for a role on President Donald Trump’s defense team for the upcoming Senate impeachment trial, a person familiar with the discussions said Tuesday.

A final decision has not been made, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations. But both lawmakers are known for their vocal advocacy of the president, on Capitol Hill and on television, and were aggressive questioners of witnesses during the House impeachment proceedings last year.

Trump’s defense team already includes White House counsel Pat Cipollone. Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow — who represented the president during special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation — is also expected to play a significant role.

Ratcliffe, a former United States attorney from Texas, was selected by Trump last summer as the director of national intelligence but ultimately withdrew from consideration amid questions about his experience. Jordan, of Ohio, is a longtime House Judiciary Committee member who was temporarily moved to the intelligence panel for the impeachment hearings and was one of the key GOP questioners.

Jordan has called the Democrats’ case against the president “lame,” while Ratcliffe has sought to portray Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden — as well as a discredited theory of election interference in 2016 — as falling far short of a demand.

Last month, as members of the Judiciary Committee debated impeachment articles against the president, Jordan said Democrats were acting because “they don’t like us,” and read out a long list of Trump’s accomplishments.

“It’s not just because they don’t like the president, they don’t like us,” Jordan added. “They don’t like the 63 million people who voted for this president, all of us in flyover country, all of us common folk in Ohio, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Texas.”

It is not clear when the trial would begin.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he has the votes to start “phase one” of the trial as soon as Speaker Nancy Pelosi releases the documents. GOP senators have rallied behind his push to postpone a decision on witnesses until later in the trial.

Pelosi is delaying transmission of the articles as Democrats press to hear from former national security adviser John Bolton and other new witnesses.