PRESIDENT Donald Trump’s formal political trial starts today, with ‘Impeachment Managers’ from both sides of the senatorial aisle expected to keep going heads-over-heels to appear fair and impartial in a partisan hearing conducted along judicial lines, in a Presidential Election year.
It’s not a trial to determine guilt, as that’s already been done in the House of Representatives, where he was found guilty as charged. What’s at stake now is the sentence.
As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi explained last week, ‘The President has already been impeached’, making Trump only the third in US history, the first being Andrew Johnson in 1868 and then Bill Clinton in 1998.
Johnson, the 17th president, was accused of violating the Tenure of Office Act, which required Senate approval before a president could remove any member of his Cabinet who’d been confirmed by the upper chamber of Congress. The House voted to impeach Johnson on February 24, 1868, three days after he fired his Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton.
Richard Nixon was certain to be impeached and convicted in 1974, but the 37th US President resigned before facing prosecution over the 1972 break-in at the Democratic Party’s headquarters in the famous Watergate scandal.
Clinton, the 42nd president, was impeached on December 19, 1998, for allegedly misleading a grand jury about his extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky in the White House, then persuading others to also lie about it. The charges were perjury and obstruction of justice and after a trial, the Senate acquitted him of both charges on February 12, after which he apologised for the affair and completed his second (and final) term.
Donald Trump, America’s 45th president, was impeached on December 18, 2019, when the House approved articles accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, after a formal inquiry found he had abused his constitutionally-granted power by soliciting a foreign government’s political assistance and interference in the 2020 presidential election; and had obstructed Congress by preventing administration officials from complying with subpoenas demanding their testimony in the inquiry.
The final impeachment votes fell along party lines in the Democrat-controlled House. On Article I (Abuse of Power) the vote was 230-197 and on Article II (Obstruction of Congress) the vote was 229-198.
The Red-White-and-Blue political theatrics will go into high gear as of today, with All the President’s Men (Republicans) and The Opposition Prosecutors (Democrats) expected to vote mainly along party lines — each having taken a public oath last Friday, before US Chief Justice John Roberts, to be fair and impartial.
In this hopefully ‘fair trial’, opposing politicians are supposed and expected to have cleansed their minds, purged their brains of all prejudices and preferences, downed their party colors and donned plain political clothing to become impartial jurists to hear and rule on the guiltiness of one of their peers – except that President Trump is no peer, but the ultimate boss of the majority of jurors.
Senate President Mitch McConnel made it very clear — from the very beginning — that he and his Republican Guard would NOT be neutral, fair and impartial jurors and would all vote to protect The Defendant.
McConnel was forced to walk-back that talk, but there’s never been any doubt since that he and the President’s men and women will still do just that.
The two sides will haggle over summoning witnesses — the Democrats badly wanting to question ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton and the Republicans dying to quiz Hunter Biden, son of Democratic Presidential candidate hopeful Joe Biden.
They will fiercely battle over whether to send the President packing or allow him to continue serving.
Trump is crying invisible crocodile tears about the Democrats simply wishing to use the impeachment process to remove him from office — knowing quite well that’s exactly what it’s all about.
But The Donald’s political goose may already have been cooked, because, no matter how the trial ends, he’ll forever have that unenviable stain of being only the third US President since Independence in1776 to have been impeached.
Never mind his loud and repeated claims of being a victim alongside his usual bravado, this POTUS knows — more than anyone else — that his future is in the hands of just a few Republicans who, if they really decide to be fair and impartial, can vote with their consciences – and with disastrous consequences for him.
To most Democrats, this is the last chance before the upcoming November presidential elections to pull a major rug from under Trump’s feet.
To the Republicans, however, they have their boss’ derriere over a barrel — for the very first and possibly only time — and it’s a dicey question of ‘Do or die’: whether they throw him under the speeding bus or jump in front of it with him.
Some argue: ‘Trump is already dead, he just doesn’t know”.
But they (should) also know this normally warlike president is in a fight for the rest of his political life and will not hesitate to weaponize his tongue and lace his defense arguments with ballistic missiles projected from his every Tweet and lobbed from every platform he addresses while his lesser peers look over their shoulders before deciding his fate.
The world is watching the pomp and circumstance of a serious presidential trial presided over by the highest judge in the land with a jury as divided as America over what to do about a president already found guilty.
So, is President Trump really a dead man walking? Will his impeachment affect how Americans vote in November? Will his Republican subjects send King Donald packing, or continue putting all their trump cards in his trusted hands?
The answers are all blowing in the Washington wind on Capitol Hill. But high or low, come what may, the ultimate verdict will be a blow – and for whom we’ll soon know!