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Senin, 11 Januari 2021

Impeaching Trump morally right but could come at a high cost for Biden - Sydney Morning Herald

Washington: Barring any surprise developments, Donald Trump will end this week as the first president in American history to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives.

Following the deadly riots at the Capitol last week, Democrats are moving quickly to impeach Trump, dispensing with the months of committee hearings they held before voting to impeach Trump over his dealings with Ukraine in December 2019.

The House is expected to vote on Thursday (AEDT) to impeach Trump - exactly a week since the assault on the Capitol and a week before Trump's term in office ends.

Donald Trump could be the only president to be impeached twice.

Donald Trump could be the only president to be impeached twice. Credit:Getty

At least in the short term, Trump's impeachment would be an essentially symbolic punishment for his lies about widespread election fraud. In order to end Trump's presidency prematurely, a two-thirds majority of the Senate would meed to vote to convict Trump and there's no prospect of that happening before Inauguration Day.

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But Democrats insist there has to be some form of retribution for Trump's reckless behaviour. Any attempt to unify Democrats and Republicans, they say, can only come after accountability for those who incited the violence in the Capitol.

In the short term, Trump's impeachment would be an essentially symbolic punishment for his lies about widespread election fraud.

"Trump incited a violent insurrection, and for that he must be impeached," Democratic congressman Adam Schiff said on Twitter. "Every day this man is in office, he is a grave danger to the nation."

Being impeached twice would single out Trump as a uniquely dangerous aberration in US history; the fact, no doubt, would be mentioned in the first paragraph of many of his obituaries.

Holding an impeachment vote would require the members of Congress to go on the record about whether they regard Trump's behaviour as acceptable presidential conduct - a useful temperature check on the health of American democracy.

When the Democrats impeached Trump the first time, many in the party feared it could backfire on them and pave the way to a second Trump term. That didn't happen and there is even less reason for them to worry about any political blow-back this time given the midterm elections are two years away.

A poll released on Tuesday (AEDT) by Quinnipiac University showed that a slight majority of Americans - 52 per cent - support removing him from office.

And it's not guaranteed that impeachment would carry no practical consequences for Trump, even though the only way it can happen is after Biden's inauguration.

If the Senate convicted him after he leaves office, he could be banned from holding public office ever again by a simple majority vote. Convincing enough Senate Republicans to get on board with the plan seems unlikely now but the only way to know for sure is to try.

That doesn't mean there aren't there aren't complications and potential downsides for those who want to impeach Trump.

While he has expressed outrage about Trump's behaviour, President-elect Joe Biden has been noticeably lukewarm on the topic of impeachment, fearing it will serve as a distraction during his first days in office.

Biden has placed a huge emphasis on what his administration will achieve during its first 100 days. He wants to speed up the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, which is running badly behind schedule, and to pass another big economic relief package.

In a break with past practice, he will come into office without any of his nominees for key posts - such as secretary-of-state and defence secretary - having been approved by the Senate.

A post-presidential Senate impeachment trial for Trump would chew up time he'd rather see devoted to passing legislation and getting his cabinet up and running. It could also drive Senate Republicans and Democrats even further apart at the exact moment Biden wants to open up space for a new era of bipartisanship in Washington.

That's why Biden has said he wants to "bifurcate" Trump's impeachment in order to avoid delaying his agenda. In this scenario, the Senate would spend half a day dealing with impeachment and the other half on confirmations and COVID-19 relief.

Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer is also reportedly exploring the possibility of invoking obscure Senate emergency powers to hold a snap trial as soon as the House impeaches Trump.

Regardless of the politics involved, Democrats believe it's a moral necessity to impeach Trump for encouraging violence. But no-one said doing the right thing comes without a cost.

Trump Biden 2020

Understand the election result and its aftermath with expert analysis from US correspondent Matthew Knott. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald's newsletter here, The Age's here, Brisbane Times' here and WAtoday's here

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2021-01-12 00:27:00Z
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