WASHINGTON.- The House of Representatives of the United States voted last night in favor of the opening of the political trial to Donald Trump by the Ukrainegate, in a historic decision that will make the Republican the third president since the founding of the country to be subjected to an impeachment.
The lower House, of democratic majority, voted in favor of the political trial of the president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, which according to the Constitution will be in charge of the Senate, where it is estimated that he will be acquitted due to broad Republican rule.
"Trump left parliamentarians with no choice but to point to his removal, as he violated the Constitution and abused the powers of his office to obtain a personal political benefit at the expense of national security," said House President Nancy Pelosi, opening the debate, which lasted well into the night.RELATED
"It is a constant threat to the security of the country," the legislator insisted on the two accusations against the president, both for the Ukrainegate case.
In several cities, from Boston to Philadelphia and New York, street demonstrations were held against the president and in support of the Democratic lawmakers who undertook the investigation, conducted the hearings and decided to put him on trial.
Despite the polarization climate in Washington, on both sides of the hemicycle lawmakers agreed on the diagnosis that it was a sad day for the United States. But the rest of the debate underlined the division that exists in the country over the figure of Trump and his political future.
While deciding his fate in Congress, the president traveled aboard the Air Force One to Battle Creek, Michigan, for a rally in a state he considers crucial for his re-election next year.
"Voters say the Democrats are trying to take away their votes," he said in one of the fiery reactions he shot during the day. "The accusation has been counterproductive for the Democrats," he added, confident that the political effect of the impeachment would end up favoring him.
Trump presented himself from the beginning of the case as a victim of Democratic machinations, who would have mounted a "farce" to get him out of the way as the only way to defeat him.
In the end here, nothing happened. We don't approach anything like the egregious behavior that should be necessary before a President should be removed from office. I believe that a President can't be removed from office if there is no reasonable possibility that the Senate .. & – Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2019
Trump was entangled in the case with a July 25 call to Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenski, in which he asked for the "favor" of investigating Joe Biden, his main rival in the race to the White House, and his son Hunter, He was on the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma while his father was vice president.
The tycoon also pressed for the opening of an investigation into the alleged Ukrainian interference in the US elections, to nullify the conclusions of the Russiagate, a case that had him mistreated for more than two years by the alleged collusion of his advisors with agents Russians
When the case came to light, the statements of key witnesses in the legislative hearings that followed gave the Democrats enough ammunition to promote the opening of impeachment.
It will be the third time in the history of the United States that a president will be put on political trial, after the Democrats Andrew Johnson, in 1868, and Bill Clinton, in 1998, in both cases acquitted. Republican Richard Nixon, accused of the Watergate case, resigned before the Senate vote was reached.
Uploaded to the "farce" theory, Republicans compared yesterday's debate against Trump with infamous moments in history, such as Pearl Harbor and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The conservative Barry Loudermilk said that the Republicans could not question the anonymous informant, who began the investigation. "When Jesus was falsely accused of treason, Pontius Pilate gave him the opportunity to confront his accusers," he said. "During that mock trial, Pontius Pilate guaranteed Jesus more rights than the Democrats to this president in this process," he added.
But the Democrats closed ranks and concentrated on showing themselves as a united front. "Looking the other way when the president committed crimes against our nation is not an option," said Rashida Tlaib. The legislator was one of the four Democrats of Muslim or Latino origin who Trump said last July that they should "go back to their countries."
This is a review of the events that have led the United States to this moment of maximum tension and what can happen now:
What triggered the process?
It all started with an anonymous complaint made through the internal spy channel of the United States. A member of the intelligence services denounces that Donald Trump has coerced the president of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelenski. The most concrete example of that pressure was a telephone call on July 25, in which the Republican insistently asked Zelenski to initiate two investigations that could benefit him in the face of the 2020 presidential elections: the first was aimed at Hunter Biden, son of the Democratic aspirant Joe Biden, for his business in Ukraine while his father was American vice president. The second, to investigate the theory that Ukraine was behind outside interference in the 2016 elections, a theory discredited by the US government itself, but still alive among the conspiracy right. As a pressure measure, Trump turned to the military aid promised to Ukraine (a strategic ally for the containment of Russia in Europe), which had been withheld, and an invitation to Zelenski to the White House.
What are the charges Trump is accused of?
The two articles of impeachment are abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. According to the first accusation, Trump pressured a foreign government using his power to obtain a particular political benefit to be re-elected. In addition, he is accused of torpedoing the investigation, ordering the members of his Administration not to participate in the citations of the Congress nor to deliver the requested documentation.
What are the tests?
Before Trump and Zelenski had the first telephone conversation last July, the United States had frozen a $ 391 million package of aid to Ukraine. As the Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, told the House of Representatives, money and the invitation to Zelenski were a negotiating weapon of the Trump Administration. He himself intervened in coercion. Sondland pointed to Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as mediator of these orders. In addition to the testimonies, an exchange of text messages gathers the debate of US diplomats about the suitability of the alleged pressure campaign.
Regarding the obstruction charge, Democratic lawmakers argue that they faced "an unprecedented challenge" from the president during the pre-indictment investigation. The committees invited the White House officials to testify, but they refused to attend the sessions alleging that the process was "completely unfounded" and "unfair."
Which are the next steps?
The impeachment is a political trial in which the House of Representatives accuses and the Senate judges. In the Senate the political trial itself is developed and the final verdict is voted. In order for a president to be dismissed, two thirds of the votes of the upper house (67 of 100 senators) are needed. Republicans control the Senate with 53 legislators, in front of 47 Democrats, including two independents, so about twenty Republican senators would have to vote against the president of their party. At the moment it is an unthinkable scenario, as there have been no fissures in Trump's defense. The Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has unambiguously acknowledged that he intends to coordinate the entire process management with the White House.
What political consequences does the process have?
The effect of this impeachment is uncertain for both Trump and the Democrats. Trump is the first president to appear for reelection after suffering a impeachment process, so it is unknown if it can have repercussions in that regard. In addition, there are so few accusations against presidents that conclusions cannot be drawn. In the case of Bill Clinton, after undergoing a dismissal process in the Lewinsky case in 1998, the Democrat raised his popularity index to 73% and the Democrats even won seats in that year's legislative elections.
In the other recent example, the favorable opinion about Richard Nixon in 1974 fell sharply to 23%. When the legislators began the investigations for the impeachment for the Watergate case, the Republican resigned, which prevented a scenario like this Wednesday.
Trump came to this vote with popularity ratings of around 42%, a figure that has remained almost intact since the process began. According to the latest surveys, 48% of the country opposes the dismissal, while 47% supports it.
Agencies AFP, ANSA, AP and Reuters