Thursday January 16, 2020
The impeachment process goes into the all-important phase. The judge and the responsible prosecutors are named and sworn in, the charges are read out. In the end, however, there are 100 disagreed senators who determine the future of US President Donald Trump.
The historic impeachment proceedings against US President Donald Trump have started. In the first session of the Senate, the House’s leading prosecutor, Democrat Adam Schiff, first read the charges against Trump. Subsequently, US Supreme Court Justice John Roberts was sworn in as head of the proceedings. For his part, Roberts took the oath from the 100 senators. The Senate will meet again next Tuesday – then the substantive part of the procedure should begin.
The US President is accused of abuse of power and hindrance to the House investigation. Trump is the third president in US history to face impeachment in the Senate. The Democrats had started it against the background of the Ukraine affair. The prospects for success are slim for them. The senators decide whether to convict or acquit Trump. Its Republicans have the majority in the Chamber. For impeachment, two thirds of the 100 senators would have to vote for at least one of the two charges. This is considered extremely unlikely.
Court of Auditors charges Donald Trump
Shortly before the impeachment proceedings began, a statement by the Court of Auditors made headlines. The Trump administration’s decision to withhold US aid to Ukraine was illegal, the independent control agency said. The government should not hold back expenditures already approved by Congress because of political considerations. Meanwhile, a business partner of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani charged the president with new statements. Lev Parnas is said to have played a central role in Giuliani’s efforts to find incriminating biden material in Ukraine.
Many questions about the exact course of the now started procedure still have to be clarified. For example, Democrats and Republicans have so far not been able to agree on whether further evidence will be used. The head of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, again asked for further witnesses to be heard in the Senate. “New incriminating information is added every day,” she said. With regard to Republican senators who don’t want to hear new witnesses, she added, “They’re afraid of the truth.” Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell had said the questioning of witness hearings would only be decided during the ongoing trial.
White House expects a quick acquittal
The Democrats are demanding hearing from Trump’s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, from his advisor Robert Blair, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, and Michael Duffy, a member of the White House budget bureau. Bolton had surprisingly said last week that he was ready to testify. In the White House’s view, Trump’s allegations are “the weakest charges ever impeaching a president.” The White House said on Wednesday that the Senate trial would therefore not be expected to take longer than two weeks. The White House plans to “soon” announce who will be on the President’s defense team, it said.
Pelosi launched the impeachment investigation against Trump in the House of Representatives last September. On Wednesday, a vote in the House of Representatives finally cleared the way for transmission of the docking points to the Senate. Seven previously appointed prosecution officials, known as impeachment managers, carried the two charges in a kind of procession from the House of Representatives to the Senate. A similar ceremony was repeated on Thursday.