Selasa, 09 Februari 2021

‘Most extraordinary offences’: Trump’s impeachment trial begins - Sydney Morning Herald

Washington: Scrapping Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial because he is no longer in office would create a dangerous precedent for future presidents to abuse their power at the end of their presidency, Democratic impeachment managers have argued.

On the first day of Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, the Democratic impeachment managers accused Trump’s legal team of creating a “fictional loophole” by claiming that he could not be convicted of inciting the deadly January 6 riot at the Capitol because he is no longer president.

Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, speaks as the Senate begins Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.

Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat, speaks as the Senate begins Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.Credit:Bloomberg

The first day of Trump’s second impeachment trial on Wednesday (AEDT) is examining whether it is constitutional to try former officials for actions taken while they were in office.

Democratic congressman Joe Neguse, one of the House of Representatives impeachment managers, told the Senate that Trump’s behaviour at the end of his term was the founding fathers’ “worst nightmare come to life”.


“Presidents can’t inflame insurrection in their final weeks and then walk like nothing happened,” Neguse said. “And yet that is the rule that President Trump asks you to adopt.”

Neguse said that future presidents would be tempted to commit “the most extraordinary and destructive offences against the American people” before leaving the White House if they knew they were exempt from the impeachment process.

If the Senate were to find Trump guilty of inciting insurrection on January 6, he could then be barred from ever holding public office again.

Jamie Raskin, the Democrats’ lead impeachment manager, began the trial by playing a video montage of Trump supporters storming the Capitol interspersed with clips of Trump’s telling his supporters to “fight like hell”.

The video showed Trump backers throwing down barriers, hitting police officers and at one point telling one: “We outnumber you a million to one out here.”

“You ask what a high crime and misdemeanour is,” Raskin said following the video. “That’s a high crime and misdemeanour. If that’s not an impeachable offence, then there is no such thing.”

Raskin said that Trump’s behaviour after losing the November 3 election - in which he falsley claimed there was widespread voter fraud - was exactly what the framers of the constitution had in mind when drafting the impeachment clauses.

“President Trump may not know a lot about the framers, but they sure knew a lot about him,” Raskin said.

At the end of his speech, Raskin broke down in tears while saying that his daughter told him she did not feel safe to come to the Capitol again after the insurrection. Raskin’s 25-year old son died on New Year’s Eve.

“This cannot be the future of America,” Raskin said. “We cannot have presidents inciting and mobilising mob violence against our government and our institutions because they refuse to accept the will of the people.”

Donald Trump at the rally outside the Capital building on January 6.

Donald Trump at the rally outside the Capital building on January 6.Credit:Getty

Trump’s legal team will present their arguments on the constitutionality of the trial later on Wednesday (AEDT). His lawyer will argue on Tuesday that only a sitting president can face an impeachment trial.

Convicting Trump would require a two-thirds vote in the 100-member chamber, meaning that at least 17 Republicans would need to join the Senate’s 48 Democrats and two independents in voting against Trump - a prospect seen as extremely unlikely.

Earlier, Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer called the accusation against Trump “the gravest charges ever brought against a president of the United States in American history”.

Trump’s messages displayed for senators during the impeachment trial.

Trump’s messages displayed for senators during the impeachment trial.Credit:AP

Democrats pointed to a recent letter, signed by 150 constitutional experts, that said it was permissible to hold a Senate impeachment trial after a president has left office.

Senate Democrats are expected to prevail in the vote on the constitutionality of the trial on Wednesday (AEDT). A Republican effort to block the trial on those grounds was defeated 55-45 last month.

Trump’s defence has argued that he was exercising his right to free speech under the Constitution’s First Amendment when he addressed supporters at a rally in Washington on the day of the Capitol attack and urged them to “fight” against the election result.

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2021-02-09 19:01:00Z

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