The White House didn’t specify in its statement what exactly the members would be doing, but it’s likely they will serve in more of a public relations role — including media appearances the TV-obsessed president desires.
"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 release continued.
Trump had talked for weeks about possibly enlisting House members as part of his legal team but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Trump allies both inside and outside the White House opposed the idea, several people familiar with the deliberations said. They were reluctant to elevate them to such a high-profile role in the trial, which they worry could take away from the solemn nature of the proceedings and serve as a distraction.
During the trial, only Trump’s defense team and the House Democrats’ impeachment managers will be allowed to substantively debate on the floor. Senators will be limited in what they can say during the proceedings.
But the House Republicans can now aggressively defend Trump on television, leaving Senate Republicans to stick to trial business as impartial jurors and avoid criticism for going on air.
Trump had been fuming both privately and publicly for weeks before the House’s public impeachment hearings began that Republicans weren’t doing enough to defend him. But that changed after the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees hearings got underway, according to several people familiar with the situation.
Last week, Trump announced White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, would lead the legal team. Former Bill Clinton special prosecutors Kenneth Starr and Robert Ray, plus retired Harvard constitutional law professor Alan Dershowitz, also will play roles.