Green Light To "impeachment": Trump Becomes The Third President In The History Of The United States To Face a Political Trial

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                 Reuters

Donald Trump has from now on a new and unenviable place in history after becoming the third president of the United States who will face an "impeachment."

This Wednesday, the House of Representatives agreed to submit the president to a political trial for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

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If found guilty in that future process, the president will be dismissed, although the chances of that happening are reduced.

What is an "impeachment" and what other presidents of the United States have been subjected to one
The fierce letter that Trump sent to the leader of the Democrats in Congress about the impeachment

The Chamber gave the green light to the impeachment by 230 votes in favor and 197 against by abuse of power; and by 229 in favor and 198 against by obstruction.

"This is a political suicide of the Democratic Party," the president said during a rally in Michigan, shortly after the first results of the session in Congress were known.

The White House published a later statement in which it assured that the president was "sure that he will be totally exonerated" in the Senate trial.

The vote came after a long debate that lasted for more than 10 hours and in which the arguments – like the final vote – were mostly aligned with the political affiliations of legislators.

Only two previous American presidents have been subjected to an impeachment in the country's history: Andrew Johnson, in 1868; and Bill Clinton, in 1998.

Both came out well, although Johnson did little, because there was hardly a vote to be convicted.

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                    Various groups of people in multiple parts of the country demonstrated in favor of the "impeachment" the day before the vote.

The impeachment process against Trump originated from an investigation into an alleged attempt by the president to use US military aid to Ukraine to pressure the government of that country to open an investigation against Joe Biden, one of the Democratic Party leaders with more options to dispute the presidency in the 2020 elections.

To this accusation is added the refusal of the White House to collaborate with legislators during the impeachment investigation process, which gave rise to accusations for obstruction of Congress.

An intense day

The debate was opened by the Democratic leader in Congress, Nancy Pelosi, promoter of the initiative.

"For centuries, Americans fought and died to defend democracy, but sadly now the vision of the founding fathers of the republic is under threat from the actions of the White House," he said.

"If we do not act now, we will be abandoning our duty. It is tragic that the president's daring actions make impeachment necessary. He has not given us another option."

During the debate, Democratic Party lawmakers insisted that Trump had put his personal political interest above the national interest, abusing the power of his office to unduly press Ukraine in order to make him interfere with the presidential campaign – injuring Biden with the announcement of the investigations against him and thus undermining democracy.

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                    Pelosi was one of the great promoters of the "impeachment", although at first he resisted activating this process despite calls within the Democratic Party.

In addition, they questioned the White House's refusal to allow Trump's government officials to go to the investigation hearings or deliver the official documents required to substantiate the case.

The representatives of the Republican Party, on the other hand, affirmed that the Democrats want to remove Trump from the White House from the first day of his government and considered that the impeachment investigation had not been fair or impartial.

In the same way, they affirmed that there is no evidence that the president has incurred the charges that are imputed to him and that the whole process is based on "rumors and conjectures."

The day reflected the deep division between both parties and the voting ended – as expected – being approved by the majority of the Democratic Party in the Lower House.

Trump's response

Although Trump was not present at the debate, he expressed his opposition to the process repeatedly during the day through Twitter, in an increasingly aggressive tone.

"Such outrageous lies of the radical left, of the useless Democrats. This is an attack against the United States and an attack against the Republican Party !!!!", he said in a message written in capital letters.

The president received the result of the vote from a rally in Michigan, in which he said he was not worried.

"It is a political suicide for the Democratic Party," he said, in a clear reference to the presidential elections that will be held in November 2020 and in which his re-election is played.

"It's a political suicide for the Democratic Party": Trump's defiant response to his "impeachment"

Trump considered that the House of Representatives was "trying to cancel the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans" and, as on previous occasions, he called the impeachment illegal.

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                    Donald Trump participated in a public event at the same time that the House of Representatives voted in favor of his political trial.

The day before the vote, the president sent a tough letter to the president of the House of Representatives, the Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, in an attempt to curb the process.

In that letter, the president accused Pelosi of declaring "an open war against democracy in the United States."

The Democratic leader, meanwhile, considered the letter "ridiculous."

Analysis by Jon Sopel, BBC editor for North America

It's done. Donald Trump is already the third member of the exclusive club of which nobody wants to be a member of the group of American presidents sent to political trial.

However, the editors of the Constitution and in particular of the impeachment provision may have never imagined the hyperpartism, from both sides, that has been witnessed during the barren debates in the House on Wednesday.

Each party (Democrats and Republicans) with its own narrative, neither listening to the other. I could say with some certainty – I would bet all my Christmas presents – that the situation will be very similar once the Senate trial is installed next year.

Donald Trump will be acquitted. You will not be forced to leave office. So what changes?

Well, the president will have a place in the history books for what has just happened and for a man with that great pride of his own it is something that will surely hurt him extremely.

But 2020? Far from being a fulminating blow against Trump, this could give him a boost in his attempt for a second term. It must be remembered that the president of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, was always cautious about the possibility of taking the path of the presidential political trial.

Next November we will discover if those concerns were well founded.

And now that?

After the vote on Wednesday, the impeachment passes to the Senate, where the political trial will be held, which is expected to take place in January.

The US Constitution states that during that process the senators will act as a jury, while a group of members of the House of Representatives will have the role of accusers.

The president of the Supreme Court, Judge John Roberts, will lead the trial.

In the end, a public vote must be taken. For there to be a conviction and Trump is dismissed, more than two thirds of the senators must vote against him (67%).

The US Magna Carta does not specify how the trial should be conducted, although there are some regulations approved by the Senate in the 1980s that can serve as guidance.

In any case, the members of that Chamber must agree on the most important rules such as, for example, the presentation of witnesses, the type of evidence that will be accepted or the duration of the trial.

The most recent modern example was the impeachment against Bill Clinton in 1998, when the presentation of new evidence was not allowed and only prerecorded testimonies of key witnesses were accepted.

At present, the leaders of both parties in the Senate have shown signs of having very different positions on how the trial against Trump should be conducted, although they seem to coincide in their desire to prevent the process from getting out of hand and becoming a sort of political spectacle, analysts stress.

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                    Bill Clinton was accused of perjury and obstruction of Justice but his political trial did not achieve the necessary majority in the Senate to dismiss him.

Senate Democratic minority leader Chuck Schumer has said he wants some senior government officials to testify as Trump's chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, or former National Security advisor John Bolton.

The American press has said, instead, that the president of the Senate, the Republican Mitch McConnell, is not in favor of allowing the presentation of witnesses.

Once the trial rules are set, the process start date will be determined and the senators must take an oath of impartiality.

Despite this commitment, existing expectations suggest that the majority of the members of the Upper House end up voting according to the position of their party.

Recently, McConnell said Republican senators will act in "total coordination" with the president's team during the trial and will vote against the process.

If so, Trump would be exonerated from the process thanks to the votes of the Republican majority in the Upper House.

The question then would be whether this whole process will have served to strengthen or weaken their options to achieve reelection in 2020.

How did we get here?

The process against Trump originated after an intelligence community official filed a complaint with an internal control body about a phone call that the US president held on July 25 with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Information released about that dialogue shows how Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, whose son Hunter worked for a gas company in Ukraine.

The conversation between the two leaders took place a few days after Trump instructed the United States government to retain, without apparent justification, some US $ 391 million in military aid to Ukraine, which had been approved by Congress.

According to the vision of the Democratic Party, these actions constitute a kind of exchange of favors with which Trump was pressuring the Ukrainian president, taking advantage of his position to obtain personal political benefits.

From the Republican Party, on the other hand, it is claimed that there is no evidence that the White House had imposed any kind of conditionality on Ukraine to deliver the aid and that, in fact, that aid was subsequently delivered without Kiev having opened any investigation against Biden

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