The era of Donald Trump ends with the fourth impeachment proceedings in American history, the second against Trump himself. The House of Representatives voted this Wednesday in favor of trying the Republican president for “inciting insurrection” after the violent assault on the Capitol, a week ago, by some ultras harangued by himself .
Just a week after leaving the White House, Trump has become the first president to be impeachment twice.But, unlike the trial for the Ukraine scandal, this case has opened cracks between yours.
This procedure went ahead 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 and sparked 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, neither. This time, after eight hours of debate and a week of national upheaval, 10 Republicans broke away from the group and voted alongside 222 Democrats, while four others did not vote.
The Capitol looked like a noble building taken over by the Army in 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 on 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 still president had encouraged them to march towards the place and “fight like a demon” against an election that he dismissed, without basis, 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. And never in recent history has that Capitol been transformed into the fort it was this Wednesday.
“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 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 do our duty and with our oath and honor the trust of our nation ”, he emphasized.
The Republican Party, made a bloc in support of Trump in the impeachment a year ago, has entered a phase of guerilla warfare after the assault on Congress. Congresswoman Liz Cheney , daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and the third-largest 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 used during the debate in a fiery defense of the outgoing president, assuring that everything responded to an “obsession” to throw Trump out from his first day.
But that was not the general feeling. While the majority of Republicans voted against impeachment , few stood up for the New York mogul enthusiastically. The position of the leader of the Republican minority in the House, the Californian Kevin McCarthy, was significant.
He 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 , already 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. What in the impeachment of a year ago, as a result of the Ukraine scandal, took about three months, this time has been resolved in a few days, largely because the faults attributed to the president have been committed this time to eyes around the world, on a long list of messages posted on Twitter or on recorded and broadcast speeches live.
Now Trump is formally charged, but it is unclear when Pelosi will move the case to the Senate, where the actual trial is held and the verdict is voted. Yes it is certain that the process will take place with Trump already outside the White House.
In addition, the Democrats themselves are considering postponing it for weeks, even months, so that the new Biden Administration can get going 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 control the House of Representatives, but are tied with Republicans in the upper house (50-50) and would need the votes of up to 17 members of Trump’s party. Its leader in the Senate, 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 in favor of convicting him.
If found guilty, the senators could immediately vote to disqualify Trump from any other public office, which would eliminate any possibility of running in 2024, something that he hinted at until now. 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 impeachment , they 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 entered its fourth impeachment, a procedure 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, also Democrat Bill Clinton, in 1998, and the third, Trump himself, at the beginning of 2020 for his maneuvers with the Kiev government to get dirty laundry from the Bidens [Trump asked the president of Ukraine to announce investigations into the son of Biden and other Democrats].
It is a direct assault on democracy that will now be judged in Washington. Trump had been fueling doubts about the credibility of the US electoral system for years, but losing re-election to Biden on November 3, he began a dangerous flight forward spreading an arsenal of baseless allegations of voter 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 same morning, January 6, he reached 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 a lot of some of them because you will never recover your country with weakness, you have to show strength and be strong”,
Now, the climate of mistrust in the United States is such that General Mark Milley and the rest of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a statement on 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 .
Meanwhile, Trump, isolated by most of the Republican establishment during his last days in the White House, addressed his followers this Wednesday through a statement in which he pleaded: “Given the information about new demonstrations, I urge you not to there is NO violence, NO law breaking and NO vandalism ”. It is late, the president who played with matches says goodbye on trial again.