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Rep. Lee Zeldin joins Trump impeachment defense team

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) speaks after a closed-door

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) speaks after a closed-door deposition amid the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry into President Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 3, 2019.   Credit: ERIK LESSER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Lee Zeldin was named Monday to President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense team, a role that he takes on after months of vigorously defending the president at House impeachment proceedings, before TV cameras and via Twitter.

The White House announced Zeldin’s appointment along with seven other House Republicans who have been vocal supporters of Trump throughout the House impeachment proceedings last year. The appointments were rolled out as the Senate gears up for the start of Trump’s impeachment trial on Tuesday.

The team of defenders includes Rep. Elise Stefanik of upstate New York; Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, who serves as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee; Rep. Mark Meadows of South Carolina, a leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus; and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a key ally of Trump’s on Capitol Hill. Reps. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, and John Ratcliff of Texas will also serve on the team.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement the lawmakers have already provided “guidance” to the White House’s legal team, which includes nine attorneys led in part by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

“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,” Grisham said.

In a Monday night tweet posted shortly after the White House announced his appointment, Zeldin (R-Shirley) said he “was honored to be asked to serve” on Trump’s impeachment team.

“The president NEVER should have been impeached in the first place,” Zeldin tweeted just before 9 p.m.

Zeldin, a lawyer, veteran, and third-term congressman, in an e-mail to Newsday Monday night said he believed the impeachment proceedings never should have gone forward. "The past few months on this circus should have been dedicated towards finding common ground" on a number of other critical issues. 

Zeldin became a fixture at the closed-door House impeachment inquiry hearings that were held last fall, attending every deposition and interview, and slamming the Democrats and their methods to reporters gathered outside of the hearing room.

With Tom Brune

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