The history of a country, seen closely, while setting, can be tedious, even vulgar. In the two weeks that the third trial has lasted for a president since the founding of the United States, senators have been seen doing crosswords and paper planes, dozing and smuggling candy in the room. The marathon sessions have shown how prosaic the crucial hours of a nation can be, especially when the outcome takes time in writing.
After half past four on Wednesday afternoon, Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, was acquitted of the two charges that were upon him. This time, nobody scribbled, stirred in the chair or looked at the infinite as in the endless previous days. The vote was fast, just over 40 minutes. One by one, each senator answered loudly “guilty” or “not guilty” – some standing up – about the so-called articles of the impeachment.
Then, the room emptied immediately, the Democrats left with long faces, but there were no great expressions of anything, neither of joy nor sorrow. In 10 minutes it seemed that nothing had happened inside, because there probably wasn’t much left to happen. This has been the impeachment most partisan lived so far.
The condemnation and subsequent dismissal of the president required the support of two thirds of the Senate, 67 of the 100 senators, and the Republicans (with 53 seats) remained as a fortress. Only Mitt Romney, the Utah senator who was a presidential candidate in 2012, a very critical Mormon politician with Trump, announced that he would condemn him in the charge of abuse. “The president is guilty of a terrible abuse of public confidence,” he said in a brief speech that he had to interrupt at times, apparently excited. He thus became the first senator in history to vote for the removal of a president from his own party.
Again, the story. This began with the denunciation of an informant from the intelligence services, in a brief dated August 12, and it quickly combusted. On September 24, the House of Representatives, in the hands of Democrats, announced the opening of a previous investigation.
The president was accused of abuse of power for allegedly pressuring his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodimir Zelenski, to get the Ukrainian justice to announce two investigations that hurt his Democratic political rivals, using even the freezing of 391 million dollars (about 355 million euros) in military aid and an invitation to the White House. One of the investigations was starring Joe Biden, a Democratic candidate, and his son, Hunter, for his work in a gas company in that country, Burisma, when the father was vice president. The other was aimed at a discredited theory according to which from Ukraine a campaign of interference in the 2016 US presidential elections would have been launched to favor the Democrats.
The instruction of this process has shown a whole network of diplomacy parallel to the service of the president in which his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has played a fundamental role, transmitting the messages of pressure of the president to officials of the country.
Meanwhile, the Republican defense has risen like an unshakable wall. Several senators of the party acknowledged in recent days that the facts denounced are true, but considered that they did not merit a impeachment, as Senator Lamar Alexander did. Or that they were “shameful,” but they would still absolve him, as Lisa Murkowski confirmed. Others, such as Marco Rubio, simply considered that, regardless of their justification, a dismissal at this time did not respond to the general interest of the country.
Hard phrases have been pronounced in the hearings. An American ambassador, Gordon Sondland, came to ensure that he had pressured Ukraine following the president’s orders. Another diplomat, Marie Yovanovitch, faced with the president, has told how they came to warn him to “take care of his back” and leave Kiev, where he headed the US Embassy, ”on the next plane.” And through the summary of a call between Trump and Zelensky, Americans have seen their president ask for the “favor” of the investigations and offer Giuliani’s help.
This trial speaks of US policy, but also of its society. None of the senators have felt that this Wednesday’s vote can ruin his political career. And Trump, since the procedure began, has seen the approval rate reach the maximum of his presidency (49%), according to Gallup, thanks above all to the good progress of the economy. Also the approval of Bill Clinton, in full swing and with Operation Desert Fox, had shot up to 73% shortly before the verdict of his impeachment for the Lewinsky case (in 1998).
The signals sent by voters weigh on what is happening in the Capitol and Trump’s support for the impeachment of the Trump party also never exceeded the partisan barrier of voters: Democrats were overwhelmingly in favor and Republicans against.
The difference between Trump and Clinton is that the latter became fearful when his lies were discovered, he felt he could arrive the day Richard Nixon arrived – when his party knocked on his door to inform him that his support was withdrawn – and apologized. In the end, he was acquitted with the support of some Republicans as well. Nixon, cornered, resigned just before the House of Representatives approved the accusation and sent it to the Senate for trial.
America is a little more cynical since Watergate. The book Impeachment An american history Remember that before that scandal, more than half of Americans responded in surveys that hoped that presidents were doing the “right thing” and those percentages have never recovered.
No one will apologize in this 2020 or take a conscience exam. Shortly after the vote, the president posted on his Twitter account a video that simulated the covers of Time magazine with future re-election dates: Trump 2020, Trump, 2024, Trump 2028 …
The first impeachment from history, that of Democrat Andrew Johnson (1868), ended the conclusion that a political dispute should not be judged as a crime; in Clinton’s there was a national debate about the private and public sphere of a president, about the degree of seriousness of lying to the nation. What reflection has the US made with the Trump case? It is difficult to identify it.
The trial, once in the upper house, has closed quickly and without the statement of some witnesses that the Democrats believed vital and that Trump had vetoed, because neither in that the opposition has found support in the Republicans. Torpedoing the process in the House of Representatives, the initial phase of the procedure, has led to the charge of obstruction. “The truth is the great asterisk in the president’s acquittal,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. “The asterisk says he was acquitted without [presentar] acts. He was acquitted without a fair trial. And it means that his absolution has virtually no value. ” impeachment, much has been said in Washington in these months, sets the tone for the presidencies of the future.
The founding fathers were aware that the president was going to accumulate so much power that the Constitution had to be given an instrument to remove him under certain circumstances. This Wednesday, a fractured Senate, with the Republicans overwhelmingly in favor and all the Democrats against it, decided that Trump will complete the 349 days he has left in office. On the eve, during the speech of the State of the Union, he was confident and aggressive. “Today, the farce of attempted political trial plotted by the Democrats ended the president’s complete claim and exoneration,” said the White House. On November 3, 2020, in the presidential elections, he will submit to the impeachment definitive in a climate of enormous polarization. On the street, there was no noise, no great protests. There have not been in the entire trial.