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Kamis, 11 Februari 2021

Donald Trump may be the one on trial, but impeachment has also become a televised group therapy session for Americans - ABC News

"I'm an impartial juror."

It was a declaration of good intention that should have been a statement of the obvious.

But in the tribal world of US politics, the comment stuck out like a mask wearer at a QAnon rally.

It was Louisiana Republican senator Bill Cassidy who delivered the remarks, having just broken ranks with his party to vote to continue the impeachment trial of a Donald J Trump — resident of Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

He dismissed arguments the Senate had no power to pursue a private citizen.

A man in a suit speaking below a chandelier
Republican senator Bill Cassidy was rebuked by his own party for criticising Donald Trump's defence team.(Reuters: Chip Somodevilla)

"If I'm an impartial juror and one side is doing a great job and the other side is doing a terrible job, on the issue at hand, as an impartial juror, I'm going to vote for the side that did the good job," Cassidy said.

He had made the call after the rambling, garrulous oration from Trump's legal team on day one of the Senate trial considering the former president's role in inciting the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

The Lionel Hutz-esque display by Bruce Castor Jr, in particular, reportedly angered the former president as it was broadcast across the country and around the world on television.

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The star of The Apprentice is, after all, known for marking people's worth based on their on-air performances.

Cassidy was quick to note his vote should not be seen as a forecast on whether he would eventually convict Trump of "high crimes and misdemeanours". But he said he had an "open mind".

Castor wears a suit and mask and holds folders and a satchel as he walks through a grand hall past reporters
Bruce Castor, the lawyer for former president Donald Trump, has been criticised for a meandering performance during the hearings.(AP: Brandon Bell)

The decision by the Louisiana Republican, a doctor by trade, was diagnosed as treachery by his local party members.

The state GOP swiftly issued a statement saying it was "profoundly disappointed" in their senator, suggesting he was supporting "politically motivated, bogus charges".

The Republican members, from a state where the alligator population is in excess of a million, labelled the Senate trial a "kangaroo court".

The Trump jury was there when the mob tore through

Cassidy's position is one the Democrat impeachment managers would hope other Republicans share.

The emphasis there is on the word "hope", given how tightly some GOP members have tied themselves to Trump's political fortunes.

The Democrats, in prosecuting their case that the former president is solely responsible for the "insurrection", painted a vivid picture of the chaos that enveloped the US Capitol on January 6.

Police stand in front of the Capitol in Washington in a cloud of gas.
Five people were killed and hundreds more were injured when supporters of Mr Trump stormed the US Capitol.(AP: Julio Cortez)

They replayed snippets from the many gigabytes of video that exist from that day, shot by rioters on their mobile phones — the very same material the FBI has used to identify and charge hundreds of individuals.

Impeachment managers introduced previously unseen vision from security cameras inside the Capitol, showing just how close the pack of Trump supports had come to reaching members of Congress.

Mike Pence and his family were seen being bundled out of the Senate chamber by the Secret Service as rioters, some of whom had erected a hangman's noose out the front of the Capitol for the former vice-president to swing from, searched the corridors for him.

Mitt Romney was seen turning on his heel in one corridor, at the urging of a Capitol Police officer, and legging it in another direction.

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Staff of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barricaded themselves inside an office, and just seven minutes later vision shows rioters trying to break the door down and gain entry to that room.

The presentation was evocative. It was triggering.

However, the Democrats didn't really need to remind their audience what happened that day.

The 100 Senators, sitting as jurors in the case against Trump, were all present as the horde of enraged, self-styled "patriots" stormed the building.

Men in suits crouching in the US chamber looking frightened
Senators who witnessed the riot on January 6 must now decide if Mr Trump was singularly responsible for it.(AP: Andrew Harnik)

Their political persuasion mattered for naught as they were shepherded to safety, with the Democrats arguing all who were in the Capitol that day should be considered victims of the mob.

"My guess is some minds may have been changed, but I don't know," President Joe Biden said.

Cassidy the exception to the Republican rule

The President's "guess" suggests some Republicans were open to changing their mind. But the evidence suggests the opposite is true.

The impeachment charge is that Trump "incited" the riot. And for many in the GOP, their views are unwavering.

"I think most Republicans found the presentation by the House Managers offensive and absurd," South Carolina senator and Trump-supporter Lindsey Graham tweeted.

"The 'Not Guilty' vote is growing."

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Even if Republicans had been moved by what they saw, transported back to the day they feared for their lives, signing up to convict the former president may be a step too far.

Many would be prepared to call for punishment to be dished out for the rioters, but not for the individual those rioters have stated in court documents implored them to breach the Capitol's defences.

Of course, that could change in the final hours of arguments. But based on current evidence, it looks highly unlikely a third of the GOP will vote to take on Trump.

A poll released during the impeachment trial by the American Enterprise Institute think-tank, which surveyed more than 2,000 people, found two-thirds of Republicans still believed Biden's election win was illegitimate.

Fear of reprisal at the ballot box from a Trump-supporting voter base is a powerful beast, one that could drive even moderate Republican senators away from conviction.

Americans reliving trauma of January 6

The impeachment trial is something of a televised group therapy session for the country.

The collective trauma of that day, inflicted upon the American people and one of its most important institutions, needs to be discussed and its cause needs to be examined in detail.

But the breakthrough may not come in the way many had hoped, even with senior Republicans such as McConnell saying the final vote should be a matter of conscience.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black started Thursday's (local time) impeachment hearings with a plea to the heavens.

"Give jurors discernment that will rescue our nation from ruin," he prayed.

"Illuminate their minds with your truth as you speak through the whispers of conscience.

"Remind them that the seeds they plant now will bring a harvest."

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https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMibGh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmFiYy5uZXQuYXUvbmV3cy8yMDIxLTAyLTEyL2RvbmFsZC10cnVtcC1qdXJ5LXRoZXJlLW9uLWphbnVhcnktc2l4LWJ1dC13aWxsLXRoZXktY29udmljdC8xMzE0MDIyNNIBJ2h0dHBzOi8vYW1wLmFiYy5uZXQuYXUvYXJ0aWNsZS8xMzE0MDIyNA?oc=5

2021-02-11 23:50:29Z
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