Donald Trump Political Trial: What Are The Next Stages

After the public hearings, the process of political trial enters a new stage

By:
AFP
| November 22, 2019

WASHINGTON – After a marathon of scandalous public hearings, the investigation with a view to the dismissal of US President Donald Trump enters a new phase.

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The next step: a vote in the House of Representatives to decide what are the articles of the political trial or ‘impeachment’ that will be applied, although the impeachment of the president, which should then be decided by the Senate, is unlikely.

Next, a look at the next stages of this process:

Articles of the ‘impeachment’

The Intelligence Committee will prepare with its findings in the investigation, a report that will be delivered to the Judiciary Committee, whose members will analyze the evidence and probably cite other witnesses.

Unlike the initial phase of the investigation, Trump and his lawyers can be part of the process, with statements, attending the hearings, reviewing the evidence and questioning witnesses.

Trump said last week he would be willing to be questioned and respond in writing.

The panel will finally vote to decide what the articles are to raise the ‘impeachment’, the political equivalent of an accusation.

The definition of the Constitution on "excesses of‘ impeachment "is broad:" treason, bribery or other high crimes or misdemeanors ", which are not defined and often include abuse of power and public confidence.

Democrats are weighing four charges, as reported: abuse of power to pressure Ukraine to help obtain internal political revenue; blackmail for withholding aid and making a meeting subject in exchange for that help; contempt for rejecting congressional subpoenas; and obstruction of justice.

Voting in the House of Representatives

The articles presented by the Judiciary Committee will then be sent to the House plenary for a vote.

The parliamentary debate on these charges could take time: in the process of dismissal of Democratic President Bill Clinton, the congressmen discussed the case more than 13 hours during two days.

The approval of the articles requires a simple majority, in a House where the Democrats have control with 233 seats, against 197 seats in the hands of the Republicans.

Judgment in the Senate

A vote in favor of the "impeachment" would transfer the case to the Senate, where the president must face a trial.

If realized, it would be the third time in the history of the United States that an acting president is prosecuted. The only antecedents are those of Andrew Johnson, in 1868, and Bill Clinton, in 1998.

The president of the Supreme Court is responsible for presiding over the trial, in which the 100 senators act as a grand jury, representatives of the lower house as prosecutors and the president has his defense lawyers.

To condemn the president, two-thirds of the votes are required, in a Senate controlled by Republicans with 53 of the 100 seats.

Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican majority, would control the process, which is estimated to be short, limiting testimony and debate, lasting less than two weeks.

You could also opt for the strategy to extend it. In Clinton's case, this stage took six weeks and new witnesses were summoned and new evidence accepted.

Beyond the charges presented, analysts believe that politics is what determines the final vote.

The proximity of the elections in 2020 will make senators, especially Republicans, calculate what their voters will be at the polls if they decide to protect the president or dismiss him.

by Elodie Cuzin

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