The era of Donald Trump ends with the fourth impeachment in American history. Congress voted Wednesday in favor of trying the Republican president for “inciting insurrection” after the violent assault on the Capitol by some ultras harangued by himself. Trump becomes the first president to undergo this procedure twice, but, unlike the trial for the Ukraine scandal, this case has opened cracks between his own. He impeachment He came out ahead in the House of Representatives, with a Democratic majority, around four thirty in the afternoon with 232 votes in favor (a dozen of them, Republicans) compared to 197 against.
The day the world saw the temple of American democracy attacked by a mob has shaken Abraham Lincoln’s party, unleashed a national crisis. No other impeachment president had received so many votes from his own party to try him. Bill Clinton, in 1998, had five. Andrew Johnson, in 1868, and Trump himself, in 2020, had neither. This time, after eight hours of debate and a week of national upheaval, a dozen Republicans have distanced themselves from the group and voted alongside the 222 Democrats. Four other members of the House did not vote.
The Capitol looked like a noble building taken over by the Army in a time of war. An imposing deployment of the National Guard guarded the wide security perimeter around the complex that houses the Lower House and the Senate, surrounded by high iron fences. Inside, hundreds of soldiers slept on the marble floors, rested from their shifts leaning against the statues, ate or chatted among themselves through the illustrious rotunda at the entrance, through all the corridors and lobbies. Others patrolled the labyrinthine facilities.
Just a week ago, on January 6, a fateful chapter had been written about the memory of that place. Hordes of Trump supporters had stormed in with disconcerting ease to boycott the certification of Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election. Hours before, the president had encouraged them to march to the place and “fight like a demon” against an election that he dismissed, baseless, as “stolen.” Five people were killed, including a beaten police officer. The session of the Chambers was suspended and resumed at night. Early in the morning, Biden was confirmed as president-elect. Never in its recent history has the United States seen the specter of a coup so close.
“We know that we have suffered an insurrection that violated the sanctity of the Capitol of the people and that tried to reverse the will duly registered by the American people,” said the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the veteran Democrat Nancy Pelosi, this Wednesday at the beginning of the debate on the impeachment in the plenary hall. “And we know,” he continued, “that the president of the United States incited this insurrection, this armed rebellion against our country. You must leave. It is a clear danger to the country we all love. “
Pelosi, the nation’s third-largest authority, cited an 1862 speech by Abraham Lincoln to call on legislators, Democrats and Republicans, to do their “duty of the patriotic in the hour of a decisive crisis for the American people.” “Comrades in Congress, compatriots, we cannot escape history. Let us fulfill our duty and with our oath and honor the trust of our nation ”, he emphasized.
The Republican Party, made a block of support for Trump in the impeachment a year ago, it has entered a phase of guerrilla warfare after the assault on Congress. Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and the third-tallest Republican in the House of Representatives, announced the night before that she would vote in favor of trying Trump. In a harsh statement, Cheney concluded that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States.” At the opposite pole of the party, Jim Jordan, was employed during the debate in a fiery defense of the outgoing president, ensuring that everything responded to an “obsession” to throw Trump out from his first day.
But that wasn’t the general feeling either. Although most Republicans voted against the impeachmentFew stood up for the New York tycoon enthusiastically. The position of the leader of the Republican minority in the House, the Californian Kevin McCarthy, was significant, who admitted that Trump “is to blame” for what happened, but considered it more appropriate to react with a “vote of no confidence” to the president and the creation of a commission of inquiry, to promote a political trial in Congress “in such a short time”, without having carried out investigations and prior hearings.
Trump will step down as president in a week, on January 20, when Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris take office. Everything that surrounds this impeachment is exceptional, in itself, an extraordinary mechanism. The phase in the House of Representatives has proceeded to vote only one week after the events, without articulating a prior investigation, appearances or witnesses through. What in the impeachment of a year ago, as a result of the scandal in Ukraine, took about three months, this time has been resolved in a few days, to a large extent, because the faults attributed to the president have been committed this time in the eyes of the world, in a long list of messages posted on Twitter or in speeches recorded and broadcast live.
Now the president is formally charged, but it is not clear when Pelosi will move the case to the Senate, where the trial itself is held and the verdict is voted. While the upper house, now in recess, does not resume sessions, it is certain that the process will take place with Trump already out of the White House. In addition, the Democrats themselves are considering postponing it for weeks, even months, so that the new Biden Administration can get off the ground without restrictions, since a Senate overwhelmed by this trial would have difficulty even confirming the new positions of the Democratic Government.
In the Senate, the guilty verdict will not be easy despite the stupor, since it requires two-thirds of the senators. Democrats and Republicans are tied for seats (50-50) and Democrats would need the votes of up to 17 members of Trump’s party. Its leader in this House, Senator Mitch McConnell, has not spoken publicly, but has expressed his satisfaction with the process as an opportunity to purge the party from Trump’s shadow, according to sources in his immediate surroundings cited by The New York Times.
This position of who was Trump’s retaining wall before the Democrats in the Ukraine trial accounts for the new scenario that opened in the United States on January 6. According to McConnell advisers, up to a dozen senators could vote to convict him. If found guilty, the senators could immediately vote to disqualify Trump from any other public office, which would liquidate any intention to run again in 2024, as he has hinted so far. The trial itself will also be, as the Democrats defend, a way of setting a precedent and not letting the president’s action go unpunished. As an alternative to impeachmentThey urged Vice President Mike Pence to remove the leader due to disability invoking the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, but Pence refused.
The United States has thus adhered to its room impeachment, an extraordinary mechanism that the fathers of the Constitution designed to be able to convict and remove a president in case of “treason, bribery, crimes or serious misdemeanors. The first went to Democratic President Andrew Johnson (1868); the second, to the also Democrat Bill Clinton, in 1998, and the third, to Trump himself, at the beginning of 2020 for his maneuvers with the Government of Kiev to remove dirty laundry from the Bidens [Trump pidió al presidente de ese país que anunciase investigaciones sobre su hijo y otros demócratas].
It is a direct assault on democracy that will now be judged in Washington. Trump had for years fueled doubts about the credibility of the US electoral system, but losing re-election to Biden on November 3, he began a dangerous flight forward spreading an arsenal of baseless accusations of election fraud – all brought down by the courts -, pressing to the officials responsible for the key territories it lost and inciting its bases against what it described as “theft”. On the morning of January 6, he came to ecstasy, launching harangues such as: “After this, we are going to walk down to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen.” “We are not going to encourage some of them much because you will never recover your country with weakness, you have to show strength and be strong,” he insisted.
Now, the climate of distrust in the United States is such that General Mark Milley and the rest of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a statement Tuesday to stress that the Army will protect the United States Constitution “against any enemy within” and that Joe Biden will be the Commander-in-Chief effective January 20. Trump, meanwhile, isolated for most of the establishment Republican during his last days in the White House, he addressed his followers this Wednesday through a statement in which he pleaded: “Given the information about new demonstrations, I urge that there be NO violence, NOTHING breaking the law and NO vandalism ”. It’s late, the president who played with matches says goodbye on trial again.
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