Jumat, 12 Februari 2021

Glaring facts highlight the danger of Donald Trump - The Australian

Donald Trump and wife Melania. Picture: AFP
Donald Trump and wife Melania. Picture: AFP

Donald Trump’s impeachment trial may be flawed, but it has served as a searing indictment of his culpability in the Capitol riots and has probably dashed any hopes he had of running for president again.

While Trump will not be convicted in the Senate because so many Republicans are still fearful of crossing him, this public trial has done him enormous damage in the court of public opinion.

This impeachment trial has ­attracted strong ratings across America, giving voters a new ­insight into how dangerous the storming of the Capitol was and of how irresponsible Trump’s actions were in inciting them.

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Over two days, Democrat impeachment managers put together a compelling case that Trump was guilty as charged of inciting his supporters to storm the Capitol.

The evidence they provided of what unfolded inside the Capitol was graphic and irrefutable.

Using videos of the riots and maps of where members of congress were at that time, they showed how perilously close the rioters came to the politicians.

The evidence debunked the claims of some that the Capitol ­invasion was essentially a harmless protest. The videos showed crowds chanting ‘‘hang Mike Pence’’ while in another, a man calls out for the Democrat house Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Where are you, Nancy? Oh Nancy, we’re looking for you.”

They showed a policeman with blood on his face being crushed by a throng of angry protesters and desperate staffers barricading themselves in offices as protesters thumped on the doors.

Most damning were the words of the rioters themselves, who said they stormed the Capitol at the ­instruction of their president. They had listened when Trump urged his supporters to march on the Capitol and ‘‘fight’’ or risk losing their country.

The prosecutors also explained how Trump used the ‘‘big lie’’ of a stolen election to whip up the crowd, and of how, when they ­attacked the Capitol, he ignored pleas from his own advisers to call for peace.

Democrats ended their argument by imploring Republicans to use ‘‘common sense’’ in judging Trump’s role in inciting his supporters to attack the Capitol.

This won’t be enough for ­Republicans because so many are fearful of Trump’s ability to ­destroy their careers if they are seen to vote against him.

So he will be acquitted, probably within days, a verdict that Trump will wrongly interpret as proof that he did nothing wrong.

There is much that is flawed about this impeachment trial.

The Democrats pursued it ­despite the fact that it is a major distraction to new President Joe Biden as he seeks to implement his agenda and foster a more bipartisan mood as he negotiates to pass his $US1.9 trillion corona­virus relief package.

The trial only divides the country further and Democrats will be accused of using it as a partisan ­vehicle to extract revenge on Trump, given that he is already out of office.

But it has served one important purpose: it has given Americans the most graphic and fulsome ­account yet of the deadly consequences of Trump’s reckless ­actions on January 6 and also of his failure to try to stop it.

The trial may serve to galvanise Trump’s hardcore base who will see him as a wronged martyr. But as we saw last November, Trump’s hardcore base is not big enough to win him re-election in 2024.

To have any chance in four years’ time, Trump needs to grow that base and win over many millions of new voters. The events of this week will hardly cause undecided voters to embrace Trump.

The Democrats will fail to convict Trump and therefore they will fail in their efforts to ban him from running for president again. But it may not matter. The case they have put forward has revealed to American just how odious Trump’s ­actions were on January 6.

Ban or no ban, the damning evidence in the Senate this week makes it much harder for Trump to become president again.

Washington Correspondent

Cameron Stewart has been The Australian’s Washington Correspondent covering North America since early 2017. This is his second US posting, having previously been The Australian’s New York correspondent the lat...

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2021-02-12 07:12:00Z

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