The House of Representatives of the United States, with a Democratic majority, voted on Wednesday in favor of submitting an impeachment to President Trump, who now relies on the acquittal of the Senate
The House of Representatives of the United States, controlled by the Democrats, voted on Wednesday in favor of submitting an impeachment to President Donald Trump, who becomes the third president in the history of the American country to face this process. His fate is now in the hands of the Senate, where the Republican majority seems determined to promptly liquidate the political trial, probably in January.
After more than eight hours, most of the 427 representatives approved the two articles of the impeachment against Trump, one for abuse of power to pressure Ukraine to interfere in the US election campaign and another for obstruction to Congress, for manoeuvring to block the appearance of key witnesses before Congress. The 73-year-old Republican magnate will be tried for allegedly withholding a key military aid for Ukraine with the goal of Kyiv investigating Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
“Today, as leader of the Chamber, I solemnly and sadly open the debate on the ‘impeachment’ of the president of the United States,” said Democrat Nancy Pelosi at the start of a marathon session. “The vision of the Republic of our founders is threatened by the actions of the White House. If we don’t act now, we would be avoiding our duty. It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make an impeachment necessary. But he gave us no choice,” she added grimly.
At the centre of the controversy, the phone call Trump held in July with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. According to Democrats, Trump froze $ 391 million in security funds to fight Russia-backed separatists and asked him in exchange for unlocking them to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, who was hired on the council of a country’s energy company while his father was vice president in the Government of Barack Obama. Trump has accused the Biden of corruption, although he has not presented evidence.
The president had warned on Tuesday that the political trial is “a declaration of war on democracy” of the country and demanded the “immediate cessation” of what he described as a “fantasy” in a tough letter addressed to Pelosi. “You are the ones who interfere with the US elections. You are the ones who subvert democracy. You are the ones who obstruct Justice. You are the ones who are bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your selfish personal, political and partisan benefit.” On Wednesday, Trump called the process an “assault on America.”
A soporific historical event
Senate leaders already discuss how to carry out a “fair process” in times of high polarization. The head of the Republican bench, Senator Mitch McConnell wants to turn the page to focus on the race for re-election, despite Trump’s desire to be vindicated before the public and the warnings of some of his colleagues that a procedure too quickly could harm them electorally.
However, the polls suggest that the ‘impeachment’ will not decant the electoral balance and that the interest of the general public has been extinguished amid endless testimonies and bureaucratic processes. While politicians argued at the Capitol, just a few groups with dozens of protesters protested at various points in Washington against Trump, some disguised as Santa Claus carrying messages such as “All I want for Christmas is to be judged by Congress.”
Wednesday’s debate in the House of Representatives was another example of how this “historic event” has been transformed into a soporific and predictable act. The format in which each congressman had only one or two minutes to support his vote turned the session into a leaden ping-pong of partisan that were repeated – in different variants – until satiety.
The Democrats warned of Trump’s threat to democracy while insisting that “no one is above the law.” Republicans dismissed everything as a political-media plot to undo the result of the 2016 election and unleash a leader who seems immune to scandals. The feeling that everything follows the planned script has been reflected in the markets, which were barely changed before the succession of mini speeches.
“This (process) is an amazing abuse of power and a shameful manipulation of justice that will stain the reputations of all those responsible for generations,” summed up Tom McClintock, a California Republican.
“Donald Trump used his high powers as president to pressure a foreign nation to harm the one he perceives as his main political opponent,” synthesized Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat.
In the impending political trial in the upper house, congressmen act as prosecutors and senators, as jurors. Neither of the previous two impeachments – Bill Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Johnson in 1868 – succeeded in separating the president from office. Nor does it seem to happen this time. In order for Trump to be convicted, Democrats need two-thirds of the votes (67 of the 100 senators), in a chamber where they barely have 45.
With tight Republican ranks, the stake seems destined to be shipwrecked. The only way they have left now to get Trump out of the White House is the same one that took him there three years ago: the polls, on November 3, 2020.