TRUMP ON THE BENCH

José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: La Red Hispana

With the start of the second impeachment trial against Donald Trump, it is perfectly legitimate to ask whether, in the midst of the public health emergency of COVID-19, it makes sense to use the legislative time and the resources of the federal government to put on their docket a former president.

In a document of almost 80 pages in length, Trump’s lawyers maintain, as expected, that it is an unconstitutional “political circus”, since it is not valid to subject the process of “impeachment” to a private citizen who left the White House at noon on January 20th.

Trump’s legal team argues that the accusation of “inciting an insurrection” is false, since he did not order anyone to carry out illegal actions and cannot be blamed for the conduct of a small “group of criminals” that invaded the Capitol on the ‘Black Wednesday’ of January 6th. Therefore, they ask that the trial be annulled.

However, Democratic prosecutors maintain that there are historical precedents for prosecuting public servants even after they have left office. Otherwise, they argue, any incumbent president could take illegal actions at the end of his term, knowing that he is not held accountable when leaving office.

In my opinion, the argument of the Democrats has legal logic, although it is inevitable to assume that it also has a political intention, since one of the consequences of the impeachment process includes the possibility of disqualifying the convicted person from higher office for life, thereby nullifying the possibility of Trump seeking the presidency in 2024.

But achieving that purpose nevertheless requires overcoming a high wall: the vote of 67 senators, at a time when the Senate is split in half, with the advantage of one vote for Democrats thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris presiding over the Senate.

The outcome of the process is therefore relatively easy to predict. Starting this week, both the former president’s nine Democratic prosecutors and attorneys will present their arguments to the nation and the world. At the end of the dramatic political process, the 67 votes needed to find Donald Trump guilty will not be added.

A group of 45 Republican senators made their opposition to impeachment clear, thereby virtually obscuring any possibility of the president being disqualified.

All of which is not to say, however, that the Democrats cannot somehow proclaim a certain kind of victory. Trump will forever bear the stain of having been the first president in US history to be the subject of a double impeachment trial. And Democrats will be able to say that no one is above the law.

Yet for the American public, perhaps most important, is that the process is completed as soon as possible, so that both the House of Representatives and the Senate return to legislate and complete the urgent economic relief package that millions of Americans need so much in the midst of the pandemic.

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