The impeachment trial against Donald Trump, accused of “inciting the insurrection” that unleashed the assault on the Capitol last day 6, will begin the second week of February, possibly on Tuesday 9. This was announced yesterday by the majority spokesman Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer after Congressional Leader Nancy Pelosi forwarded the impeachment approved by the Lower House last week with the support of 10 Republicans.
Schumer will present the statement of charges this Monday, so that on Tuesday the procedures will be carried out to start the procedure and a period of two weeks will be opened for the legal teams to prepare their allegations. Finally, the Democratic senator has managed to reach an agreement with Mitch McConnell, leader of the Conservative party in the House, who initially wanted to delay the impeachment until the middle of February.
McConnell alleged that this gave the former president a fair period of time to organize his legal defense. The Kentucky senator, who broke up with him after having to flee the Capitol under police protection, has been explicit in publicly condemning Trump for having “fed the mass with lies” about an alleged electoral fraud. Still, he believes that “the president deserves a full and fair process that respects his rights and the legal, constitutional and factual issues that are at stake,” he said in a statement.
For the Democrats, by contrast, the postponement was nothing more than a ploy to buy time. “The president and our leaders have had equal time to prepare, and our leaders are ready,” warned Nancy Pelosi. In Biden’s party, which has controlled the Senate since Wednesday, many are seeking a summary trial of no more than three days to leave behind the divisive presidency of the tycoon, which has brought the country to the brink of civil war. There is no doubt that the first impeachment against a president who is not even already in office would deepen those divisions and undermine Joe Biden’s message of reconciliation and unity.
Still, Democrats believe the real mistake would be to let it go. First, because it is important to leave a historical record of his role in that insurrection, but above all because the conviction would disqualify him from holding public office again. That is the main fear of many, that Trump will soon launch a new campaign to run for president in 2024 or seek other forms of power, from governor to senator. His new residence in Palm Beach provides him with the Florida platform, where he has always enjoyed much support.
He also has it in his own party. Despite the fact that the magnate could not convince any judge to alter the result of the elections, 70% of Republicans have bought into his accusations of fraud. When he left the White House on Wednesday, Trump still had the support of 98% of the Republicans who follow him and 81% of those who voted for the Republican Party, according to an NBC poll. The assault on the Capitol did not affect the opinion of the majority – only 5% would change their vote – and 47% blame the Antifa militants for it.
For his defense Trump will not use his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, with whom he did not end on good terms. In court, the former New York mayor was a general laughingstock for his incongruous conspiracy theories and, furthermore, he proved rusty in the art of litigation. This time he could also be called as a witness and even be indicted, having asked the protesters today “a trial by combat.”
As Trump’s loyal adviser Jason Miller announced on Twitter, the former president has retained the services of a South Carolina lawyer named Butch Bowers, “who enjoys the respect of both Democrats and Republicans.” Behind that representation would be Senator Lindsey Graham, who is lobbying for the former president among his colleagues.
An African-American will be the Pentagon’s chief executive for the first time
Joe Biden was the first US president since 1989 to be sworn in without the Senate having approved the nomination of his defense secretary, the most critical position in a country that lives with the finger on the trigger. Then the chosen one of George H. Bush was John Tower, to whom the Senate could not ignore his vices and lucrative business with Defense. Dick Cheney replaced him.
In the case of Lloyd Austin, 67, his only flaw is having served his country honorably until retiring as a general four years ago, less than the seven required for the post of Secretary of Defense. Follow in the footsteps of James Mattis, who the Senate has already exempted from that limitation due to fears that Donald Trump would elect someone unstable. But he also has another problem that nobody dares to say out loud: he is black.
For the first time in history, an African-American has been elected Secretary of Defense. 44% of the 1.3 million active men and women belong to some minority, but none of the 27 white men – and no women – who have been in charge of Defense. In a country shaken by the resurgence of supremacism that Trump fueled, it remains to be seen how its armed forces accept the orders of a black commander. On the eve of Biden’s inauguration, the Pentagon had to relieve from their posts a dozen military personnel in charge of their security, whom the FBI had detected links with neo-Nazi militias.
Austin was the first African-American general to lead troops in combat, the sixth to earn four stars, and the only one to have led Central Command. Biden got acquainted with him in Iraq, where he oversaw troop withdrawals and says he observed him in various positions until he was convinced that he was “a man of extraordinary talent and profound personal decency” from whom he has often sought advice. He admires his calm, his character, his diplomacy and his ability to build relationships with his counterpart.
It took an intense lobbying effort to convince the Senate to approve a dispensation – unanimously – before confirming this Friday with only two votes against. Many have done so reluctantly, genuinely concerned about the growing military control of Defense, whose high command is reserved for civilians as a democratic safeguard. The “extraordinary challenges” of the moment have convinced most to ignore their reservations.
His greatest challenge, however, will not be in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria or Yemen, where he has served, but at home, where Intelligence places domestic terrorism as the main threat of the moment.