Agreement Reached To Avoid Witnesses In Trump’s Impeachment Trial
The heart of Trump’s legal team’s argument was supposed to be that theSenate did not have jurisdiction to take up the trial of a former federal official. That was certainly part of it and wasa message that resonated with the overwhelming majority of GOP senators.
In a vote on the first day of the trial, for example, 44 Republicans voted to say it was unconstitutional for the Senate to try a president after he left office. That’s despite a 145-year-old precedent in which the Senate voted that it was constitutional to try a former Cabinet official for impeachment.
The constitutionality argument allowed many Republican senators to sidestep the merits of the case against Trump. That’s even though the lead impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., on Thursday closed his side’s arguments by imploring senators that the constitutionality of the trial had been resolved by the earlier vote.
The I Newsletter Cut Through The Noise
It is not the first time Trump has been impeached by the House of Representatives – the president faced a Senate trial in 2020 for an abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Here’s all you need to know.
Why was Trump impeached the first time?
On 18 December 2019, Trump, the 45th president of the US, was impeached for an abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by the House.
This stemmed from a phone call Trump made to the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, encouraging him to dig up dirt on political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Biden jr worked for a Ukranian energy company when his father was US vice president under Barack Obama.
Trump’s administration was accused of withholding military aid from Ukraine at around that time and a White House meeting for Zelensky.
The House’s judiciary committee said Trump had “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections”.
But he was acquitted by the Senate on 5 February 2020, on a near party-line vote. Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, was the only one to break party ranks.
What does impeachment mean?
Impeachment, in US politics, is a charge of misconduct made against a public official or president.
It is a political process – not a criminal one – which is the first of a two step action which has the power to remove a current president from office.
A Question Of Process
Among some political commentators, it has become fashionable to denounce political objectives premised on procedure rather than desired outcomes. Leaving aside the vexed question of whether the two can ever be meaningfully separated, there is some bad news to deliver those who hold this meretricious point of view: the republic is an ideal anchored in accepted but not fixed or universal values democracy is a process and the United States Constitution is the operating manual for our democratic republic. It is inherently and essentially a procedural document and the United States defines itself, as a political experiment, by adherence to or deviation from those procedures.
Bearing that in mind, it is stunning to reckon with President Trumps baseless interpretation of Article II as awarding him unchecked power. Unlike his predecessors many of whom, at various points, crafted aggressive arguments on behalf of the executive Trumps actions constitute not an assertion of executive privilege but advocacy for an entirely different system of government.
In making this observation, I am not likening the Trump-Ukraine investigations to the trivialities pursued by Republicans. Rather, I am saying to people who vehemently disagree with me on politics that there can be no disagreement on fundamental points of constitutional power if we are to sustain a democratic republic.
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Release Of John Bolton’s Manuscript
On January 26, The New York Times reported that former national security advisor John Bolton had written in a draft of his forthcoming book, , that the president told him in August 2019 that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in aid to Ukraine until officials there pursued investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. Trump denied Bolton’s claim. The manuscript was released after the first week of the impeachment trial, prompting House impeachment managers to call for the Senate to call Bolton as a witness. Bolton also claimed to have discussed the suspension of aid with Attorney General William Barr, and that the two had shared concerns over Trump offering personal favours to the leaders of autocratic regimes around the world, including in Turkey and Xi Jinping in China. The Times later reported that Bolton’s manuscript described a May 2019 Oval Office meeting during which Trump directed Bolton to call Zelensky to ask him to meet with Giuliani about getting damaging information on the Bidens. Bolton reportedly wrote that Giuliani, Mulvaney and White House counsel who, at the time of the report, was representing Trump in the impeachment trialattended the meeting. Trump denied telling Bolton this, and Giuliani denied Mulvaney or Cipollone attended meetings related to Ukraine. Cipollone previously stated he never attended Ukraine-related meetings, and Mulvaney said he avoided TrumpGiuliani meetings so as to not jeopardize their attorney-client privilege.
How Long Will It Last
The trial formally began on Thursday, but the Senate will sit as a court of impeachment for Trumps trial on Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET.
Historic rules determined by the Senate say the trial will run six days per week Monday to Saturday until it is finished.
The duration of the trial, though, depends on a number of factors, including whether witnesses are called to testify.
The parameters of the trial including speaking time and the possibility of witnesses will be laid out Tuesday afternoon in a resolution from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that will kick off the proceedings.
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What About Other Benefits
There has been talk of Mr Trump losing benefits granted to his predecessors under the 1958 Former Presidents Act, which include a pension and health insurance, and potentially a lifetime security detail at taxpayers’ expense.
However, Mr Trump is likely to keep these benefits if he is convicted after leaving office.
Monday January 2: Transmittal Of Article Of Impeachment To The Senate
Normally, the process of transmitting articles of impeachment from the House to the Senate is reasonably simple, though it does require appointment by the Speaker of impeachment managers who will present the case for impeachment in the Senate before and during the subsequent impeachment trial. Its up to Nancy Pelosi to decide when to march the managers over to the Senate to exhibit the article and trigger a trial under the procedures set up in the upper chambers standing rules governing impeachment. After Trumps first impeachment, Pelosi held back transmittal of the articles for nearly a month .
On January 22, however, new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced on the Senate floor that Pelosi would send over the article on Monday, January 25.
There it is House impeachment managers deliver article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate, formally triggering a trial.
Soon after that Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced an agreement for a trial to begin on or about February 9, a two-week delay.
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What’s The Difference Between Being Convicted And Being Impeached
Let’s do a quick recap: the House of Representatives decides on impeachment. But its up to the Senate to decide whether or not Trump will be convicted. Normally, this would mean removal from office, but in this case, its a little different.
Although the two use similar terminology, an impeachment trial is very different from a criminal trial. An impeachment trial has only two outcomes: A conviction or an acquittal.
“The conviction simply means that the person is removed from office,” Robert Peck, a constitutional attorney and President of the Center for Constitutional Litigation said.
However, impeachment does not take the place of traditional legal proceedings if they are are related to criminal charges.
So theoretically, it would still be possible for a president to be criminally convicted from the impeachment.
‘clear And Present Danger’
Trump “must go,” Pelosi said. “He is a clear and present danger to the nation we all love.”
Actual removal seems unlikely before the Jan. 20 inauguration of president-elect Biden.
Minutes after the House vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested in a statement that Trump’s Senate trial will not start before Jan. 19, the chamber’s next scheduled business day.
It’s also about the time Democrats take over majority control of the Senate. The timetable essentially means McConnell is dropping the trial into the laps of Democrats.
“There is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial” could end before Biden takes office, McConnell wrote. He said it will “best serve our nation” if the government spends the coming week “completely focused on facilitating a safe inauguration and an orderly transfer of power” to Biden.
Still, McConnell did not rule out voting to convict Trump in the event of a trial. In a note to his fellow Republican senators just before the House was to begin voting, he said he is undecided.
“While the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate,” McConnell wrote.
“I hope that the Senate leadership will find a way to deal with their Constitutional responsibilities on impeachment while also working on the other urgent business of this nation,” he said.
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Request For Grand Jury Materials
House Democrats have requested the records from the grand jury proceedings that were part of the Mueller investigation, stating that the material was needed to investigate whether or not articles of impeachment should include perjury charges against the president based on his responses to the Mueller probe. The district court decided in their favor, but two of the three judges on an appeals court panel seemed skeptical. They set oral arguments for January 3, 2020. On March 10, 2020 the panel ruled 21 in favor of releasing the material to Congress.
On January 3, lawyers for the House Judiciary Committee urged the court to enforce the subpoena against McGahn, arguing that McGahn’s testimony could provide the basis for new articles of impeachment against the President. When Trump-appointed judges asked what might happen if the courts demurred, Letter raised the specter of chaos and civil war, raising the prospect of a pitched gun battle between the Sergeant at arms and the attorney general’s security detail.
How Long Will The Trial Last
How long the trial will take is not known, but most people believe it will be much shorter than the three-week trial the last time Trump was impeached over his actions over Ukraine, when he was accused of abusing his power and obstructing Congress. The verdict could come after just a couple of days.
It is unclear yet whether the Senate will vote to allow the legal teams to call witnesses in person, although the trial is highly unusual in that the jury are witnesses, as senators were present in the Capitol and were forced into hiding as the mob invaded the very chamber where the trial will be held.
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Donald Trump Speaks Out Following Impeachment Vote With Message On Twitter
The 73-year-old businessman-turned-politician took to Twitter on Wednesday to share a strongly-worded message and photo, sharing his thoughts on the news. In a surprising turn of events, the House approved one article for abuse of power in a vote of 230-197, and second article in a vote of 229-198 for obstruction of Congress. The former reality star is accused of betraying the country for his own political benefit.
“In reality they’re not after me. They’re after you. I’m just in the way,” reads Trump’s message which includes a black-and-white photo of him pointing his finger at the camera.
Meanwhile, Trump told supporters during his campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, that he wasn’t “worried” about his impeachment.
“I dont know about you, but Im having a good time,” per multiple outlets. “Im not worried.”
In a video obtained by NBC, Trump seemed at ease and without care when speaking about his impeachment, saying that the Senate would “do the right thing.”
“We had 198 to 229. We didnt lose one Republican vote and three Democrats voted for us,” he said to applause. “The Republican party has never been so affronted, but theyve never been so united as they are right now… I know the senators, and theyre great guys and women too. We have some great women, we have great guys. They love this country. Theyre going to do the right thing.”
Still your president. Merry Christmas.
Tuesday January 2: Senators Sworn In After A Preliminary Motion To Dismiss
In a parliamentary maneuver that was something of a surprise, Senator Rand Paul offered a resolution just prior to the scheduled swearing in of senators for the trial challenging its constitutionality on grounds that Trump had already left office. 45 Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell, supported Pauls position. This provided a very clear early signal that the 17 Republican votes needed for conviction in the Senate were not going to be available.
In a bit of an anticlimax, senators were administered an oath of impartiality, and a summons based on the article of impeachment was sent to Trump and his legal team. Normally the chief justice of the United States presides over the impeachment trial of a president , and would administer the oath to senators. But Roberts is said to believe he can skip this chore because Trump is no longer president, which means the vice-president can preside without the conflict of interest that led the Founders to provide a role for the chief justice in a presidential trial. Vice-President Kamala Harris in turn delegated the presiding role to President Pro Tem Pat Leahy given the partisanship her prominent participation could suggest.
The Senate resumed regular business until the trials scheduled beginning on February 9.
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Full National Impact Of 2nd Trump Impeachment Could Take Decades To Unpack
Donald Trumps status as the only U.S. president to be impeached twice may be his most lasting legacy one that is far different than how he might have been remembered prior to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol January 6 by his supporters.
Presidential historian Barbara Perry says that despite Trumps reputation for norm-breaking, racism and online bullying, the former president fulfilled many of the main promises he made on the campaign trail in 2016.
Maybe more than most presidents, he made good on his promises, says Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.
He lowered taxes on the wealthy. He limited and reduced federal regulations. He put conservatives to the tune of over 200 federal judges on the lower federal courts and three conservative members of the U.S. Supreme Court. He engaged in strong-arm tactics against China. He built part of his wall on the southern border and attempted to reduce, and succeeded in reducing, illegal immigration.
Forecasting how historians will perceive and treat the 45th president decades from now is a risky endeavor. Perspectives change over time. Yet Perry and other students of politics agree that Trumps trial for inciting insurrection, which begins this week, will likely obscure or taint the most notable accomplishments achieved during his presidency.
Road to healing