Impeachment To Donald Trump: "The Purpose Of The Political Trial Of The President Of The United States", By Farid Kahhat USA

Updated on 12/29/2019 at 07:00

The US House of Representatives approved the charges under which the Senate will decide the future of President Donald Trump. These are abuse of power and obstruction of the congressional investigation against him. It will be the first time that the president-in-law is put on political trial by a Senate where his own party (the Republican) has a majority (53 senators out of 100). Since 67 senators are required to dismiss the president, it was always known that it was virtually impossible for Trump to be dismissed.

What was the purpose of a Democratic majority chamber charges against the president? One would be to change the position that most public opinion has around the process (thus affecting the electoral perspectives of the president in office and his party). The Democrats got that when the charges against Richard Nixon were debated in the House of Representatives in 1974. After the resignation of Nixon, the Democrats won the presidency and retained control of Congress in the 1976 elections. Republicans, on the other hand, they failed to turn public opinion against the Democratic Party during the political trial of Bill Clinton, losing positions in Congress during the midterm legislative elections in 1998.

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Why, in one case, the political trial culminated in the resignation of the president and in the electoral defeat of his party; while in the other, the president retained the position and his party won positions in the next election? Presumably it depended on how public opinion perceived the charges against the president. Initially, in both cases, a majority of public opinion believed that the charges did not merit the impeachment of the president.

Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before being dismissed. (Photo: AP)

In the case of Nixon, however, the Judicial Committee of the lower house got new evidence (the Nixon conversations recorded by himself), which contributed to changing the perception of the process (and, with it, the support that Nixon had between congressmen of their own party). In Clinton's case, Republicans relied on the investigation of a third party (the so-called Starr report), to prosecute him for charges other than the originals (he was eventually prosecuted for lying under oath about his extramarital affairs).

Perhaps the reasons why in the current process there is no clear majority in favor of the removal of the president are two. In the first place, it is not clear that the fundamental charge brought against Trump (abuse of power) is criminal in nature (although the Constitution does not require that the charges be of that nature as a condition for dismissing a president). The second reason would be that, in addition, that charge refers us to a relatively abstruse foreign policy issue (the Ukrainian plot). An issue that most perceive as of secondary interest.

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