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    Trump impeachment: President demands immediate Senate trial

    December 20, 2019

    US President Donald Trump has demanded an immediate impeachment trial in the Senate, amid an impasse among Democrats and Republicans over when it may start.On Wednesday, the House impeached Mr Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.But Democrats have refused to start the proceedings, arguing the Republican-controlled Senate is refusing witnesses and will not hold a fair trial.The Senate's numbers mean Mr Trump is almost certain to be acquitted.The impeachment process has been highly toxic and divided almost totally along party lines.The two charges agreed on Wednesday follow accusations that Mr Trump pressured Ukraine to dig up damaging information on Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and then refused to co-operate with a congressional inquiry into the matter.
    In a series of tweets, the president accused the Democrats of not wanting to go to trial because their "case is so bad".He tweeted: "So after the Democrats gave me no Due Process in the House, no lawyers, no witnesses, no nothing, they now want to tell the Senate how to run their trial. Actually, they have zero proof of anything, they will never even show up. They want out. I want an immediate trial!"
    The president said the Democrats did not want Adam Schiff, who led the impeachment process, the Bidens and a CIA whistleblower who sparked the inquiry to testify.The Democrats have argued that it is Mr Trump's Republicans who are balking at the appearance of witnesses. The House did also invite the president to testify before its investigators but he declined to do so.To get things rolling, the Democrat-controlled House must transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate.But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is refusing to do so until the rules of the Senate trial are acceptable to the Democrats.
    The Senate's Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, will determine the terms of the trial and the Democrats want him to provide details on which witnesses and what testimony will be allowed.He has refused to play ball. "We remain at an impasse," he said, after a brief meeting with the Democrats' Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer.Mr McConnell has the numbers. There are 53 Republicans in the 100-seat Senate and impeachment would require a two-thirds majority in favour.Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirms the votes in the House on Wednesday and warns her party not to celebrate Mr McConnell has called the impeachment process the "most rushed, least thorough and most unfair" in history, signalling the kind of bipartisan rancour expected when the trial starts.The Democrats hope the delay will both move public opinion in favour of a fuller trial and deny Mr Trump - only the third US president to be impeached - a swift acquittal.The Democrats want at least four current and former White House aides with knowledge of the Ukraine affair to testify.They say the trial has to be fair, with senators acting as impartial jurors, and that Mr McConnell's comments show he has no plans to do this. He earlier said Republican senators would act in "total co-ordination" with the president's team.
    He is accused of having withheld $400m (£307m) of military aid to Ukraine already allocated by Congress, and a White House meeting for Ukraine's new president, until Ukraine looked into potentially damaging material on Joe and Hunter Biden.Hunter worked for a Ukrainian company when Joe Biden was US vice-president.The Democrats say this amounts to an abuse of presidential power, using the office for personal political gain and to the detriment of national security.Mr Trump is also accused of obstructing Congress by refusing to co-operate with the congressional inquiry.
    Trump impeachment and a US state divided
    The divisions in Congress over impeachment have been made clear - and the key battleground state of New Hampshire mirrors the debate on Capitol Hill as voters consider impeachment with an eye cast towards the 2020 election.Two things are taken very seriously in New Hampshire's Mount Washington Valley - politics and snow.There was palpable excitement when several inches of the white stuff fell on Impeachment Day. But the vote itself garnered little more than a collective shrug of weariness and resignation.Local radio stations gave equal weight to coverage of the proceedings and reports on which ski trails were operating."The partisans are very partisan and have already decided one way or the other and those in the middle are still undecided and probably a little disinterested," says Mark Guerringue, publisher of the Conway Daily Sun."What seems striking about this compared to the Clinton impeachment is that nobody can agree on the facts."Like the rest of America, New Hampshire is divided. Donald Trump won his first primary victory here in 2016 and lost to Hillary Clinton by less than half a percentage point. His reelection campaign believes he can win next year.Support for the president is strong among Republicans while Democrats are celebrating Wednesday's vote to impeach him. But New Hampshire also has a strong independent streak - the state motto "live free or die" is proudly displayed on license plates.
    How impeachment will influence the state's unaffiliated voters - if at all - will be the real test in the coming months.'Trump did wrong, but Democrats have rushed it' A lot of people in my generation see the system as fundamentally flawed. Both sides have ignored the process when it's convenient for them," says 32-year-old Tony Zore, news director of the Mount Washington Radio Group in North Conway and author of The American Republic which explores national identity.He describes himself as an independent libertarian and has previously voted for Democrats and Republicans. He feels pessimistic about the current state of politics and expects to vote for a third-party candidate in 2020.He paid a "small to moderate" amount of attention to the impeachment hearings but believes President Trump did commit an impeachable offence. However, he disagrees with the way Democrats have pursued the case."Democrats have rushed the whole process and are using it as ammunition in the election. They assume Republicans are going to vote it down in the Senate so they're not flushing out the case fully."He thinks Democrats should have taken more time to work with the courts to enforce subpoenas that demanded White House officials give evidence."Impeachment can't be a partisan issue. It has to be reflective of the nation as a whole protecting itself against abuse. The party that takes on that burden takes on the role of convincing the opposition to join them. I don't think the Democrats did that."'Impeachment shows strength of constitution'
    "I think the process has actually been extraordinarily fair," says Mike Davenport, 75, a consultant. He's a Democrat who supports Pete Buttigieg for the Democratic nomination.He and his wife Karen, 59, remember the impeachment of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton - but neither think there are many similarities."The situation in the Clinton impeachment was quite simple - he lied about what he did, so the impeachment was about the lie and not what he did," says Mr Davenport."By contrast to Nixon and Clinton, this guy Trump makes what they did seem so miniscule," agrees Mrs Davenport. "I think it's got to turn some voters. I think a lot of people are embarrassed they voted for him."Even though she doesn't expect the Senate to convict him, she doesn't think the process has been a waste of time.
    What you need to know about the Senate trial
    The US House of Representatives has impeached President Donald Trump, setting the stage for the third-ever Senate impeachment trial.Here's what you need to know about that.Why is there a trial?A trial in the Senate will follow the vote to impeach the president in the House, as decreed in the Constitution.The House's articles of impeachment level two accusations against the president: that he solicited a foreign country to help him politically and that he obstructed Congress. The Republican president has denied any wrongdoing, calling the inquiry a "witch hunt".
    Mr Trump is accused of withholding millions in military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting with Ukraine's president as bargaining chips to push Ukraine into investigating his Democratic rival Joe Biden. Democrats say this amounts to an abuse of presidential power.As the White House refused to allow staff to testify during impeachment hearings in the House, Democrats have also accused Mr Trump of obstructing Congress.The Constitution is admittedly vague when it comes to impeachment - simply mandating that the House has the "sole power of impeachment", acting as grand jury and bringing charges. The Senate is given "the sole power to try all impeachments" and convict a president of "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanours".There are general rules largely based on President Andrew Johnson's trial, but ultimately, Republican leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic counterpart Chuck Schumer will have to determine the guidelines for evidence, witnesses, duration and arguments.While Mr McConnell has the final say over the format as the Republican Senate leader, he could find his options limited if Democrats pressure moderate Republicans to vote with them on any changes to the rules. At any point, senators can call for votes on trial procedures that would need a simple majority to pass.After lawmakers hear from both sides - House prosecutors and White House counsel - and any witnesses, they will be given a full day to deliberate before a vote on conviction is held.A two-thirds majority is required to convict and oust Mr Trump. Given that Republicans control the 100-seat chamber with a 53-47 majority, the president is widely expected to be acquitted.
    Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over the trial in the Senate, but the senators ultimately will act as both judge and jury.Justice Roberts is there to make sure the trial adheres to the predetermined rules, but if any vote during the trial ends in a tie, he has the final say.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will also select a group of Democrats to act as impeachment managers - essentially prosecutors for the House. These lawmakers will present the lower chamber's case for impeachment to the Senate.Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler would be the most traditional choices, US media report, though it is unclear who else might make the cut.During Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, Republicans had 13 such managers; staunch Trump ally Lindsey Graham was one.Mr McConnell, the majority leader, will ultimately have sway over the format and guidelines of the trial.He sparked condemnation from Democrats over recent comments to Fox News, saying: "Everything I do during this, I'm coordinating with the White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president's position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can."Senators can ask questions of witnesses or counsellors, but only by submitting them in writing to Justice Roberts.Witnesses may not necessarily appear on the Senate floor. They can be interviewed by a committee of lawmakers with footage of the testimony aired during the trial instead.Democrats want several senior White House officials to testify, including acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and ex-adviser John Bolton.But there may not be any witnesses at all if Republicans decide they would rather keep the trial short, despite Mr Trump's calls for the Bidens and the whistleblower who sparked the Ukraine inquiry to appear.Speaking on the senate floor on Tuesday, Mr McConnell suggested as much, saying the senate's duty is to "act as judge and jury to hear a trial, not to rerun the entire fact-finding investigation"."We do not need jurors to start brainstorming witness lists for the prosecution," he added.
    Mr Clinton's trial had no live witnesses.



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