ANALYSIS | Trump’s historic second impeachment trial looms over Biden and Republicans

(CNN) — Donald Trump’s second unique impeachment trial sealed history’s verdict on a corrupt and disgraced presidency. But the political end of this tragic saga is just beginning and will decide the extent of America’s recovery from its evil period.

The impeachment in the Senate for the future former president will mean that his toxic presence will contaminate the beginning of the presidency of Joe Biden. It will also seriously complicate his successor’s quest to harness the peak of his power in his early days in office to control a never-before-seen deadly panic.

Trump’s disastrous final days in office have brought the Republican Party to an existential moment. How Republican senators decide to deal with the strongman who intimidated and manipulated them for five years will show whether his out-of-control party can revive his conservative soul or is destined to run into a conspiratorial and undemocratic dead end.

Trump impeachment will be an aberration, analyst says 1:04

The trial in the Senate, unlike the first time, will take place under the control of the Democratic Party and will not fall into a vacuum. The reaction to Trump’s latest impeachment trial and his harsh departure from office will affect a restless and angry nation, traumatized by the Washington insurrection he inspired.

Tens of thousands of soldiers and security forces should be able to provide security for Biden’s inauguration, but the FBI warnings of uprisings in 50 states reflect the fragile atmosphere, which with the trial could be even more tense.

The next few weeks will make it clear whether Trump-inspired fury and radicalism will recede when he is in political exile in Florida. Or they will reveal if something more serious is brewing, even an unthinkable white nationalist insurgency triggered by Trump’s refusal to accept his electoral defeat that will worry the crisis-challenged Biden presidency.

On a related note, the president-elect has already raised concerns that the sheer drama of a Senate trial will slow down his first vital agenda items, including more funding to expand a faltering vaccine distribution effort and more. help for the damaged economy.

The first impeachment of a former president – which is itself the final and surreal break with the rules of the Trump era – will also go a long way in deciding how quickly America’s political institutions and the galvanizing role of truth in the Public life, which has been under constant attack from the current president, can be rehabilitated. Perhaps the bravery of 10 Republican lawmakers who joined Democrats in a bipartisan impeachment in the House of Representatives on Wednesday portends a rift in rigid political battle lines.

But Trump retains a mystical grip on the Republican base and has the ability to harass and threaten the Republican senators who will make the decisions. The scenes of Republican lawmakers being harangued by fierce Trump supporters at airports in recent days offer a small taste of the price that those who abandon their leader will have to pay.

Given that the majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives voted not to punish the president for striking an effective blow against another branch of government, hopes of a new dawn of republicanism may be far fetched.

The next few weeks will also see the president’s retreat into a private life that suddenly seems deeply unappealing.

Trump’s conduct in breaking the American tradition of peaceful transfers of power has made him an outcast. Businesses and banks are rushing to disassociate themselves from him, a fact that could have prompted his belated call for calm in a video posted after he was again impeached.

Multiple civil and legal challenges stalk a Trump who will no longer be protected by the presidency. The president is already deeply concerned about the impact of the past week on his personal brand, sources told CNN. With his companies already feeling the negative effects of a polarized presidency, the future of the president’s business looks cloudy at best.

An impeachment led by Democrats

Washington has a week to digest the institutional upheaval of the first presidential double impeachment in history. It will be up to incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to wrestle with fierce constitutional issues that will uniquely apply to the trial of a former president.

The first issue will be timing and whether the Senate can accommodate Biden’s request to remain open to issues related to the pandemic and the push to confirm his top Cabinet appointments at a rarely seen time of national crisis. Timing will be another matter, as the new White House will be calling for a trial of days, not weeks.

Why can you impeach a US president? 2:03

Make no mistake, there will be a political trial in the United States Senate; there will be a vote to convict the president of serious crimes and misdemeanors; and if the president is convicted, there will be a vote to ban him from standing again, “Schumer said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could have summoned the chamber since his recess to begin the trial with Trump still in office. But he has clear political reasons for allowing Democrats to set the terms, and possibly feel the reaction, of the process.

Intense intrigue surrounds the way McConnell will vote after making it known that he supports the notion of impeachment for the storming Trump last week incited on Capitol Hill, including his beloved Senate.

True to form, McConnell seems determined to take his own advice to see the treacherous politics of impeachment unfold. But if he did eventually break with Trump, he would give political cover to other Republican senators to follow suit and possibly put within his grasp a two-thirds majority needed to convict the president.

McConnell is said to be furious at Trump. The outgoing Majority Leader is shielded from the challenges of the primaries after embarking on a new six-year term and lost his majority, largely due to the antics of the president before runoff elections in Georgia in early this month. The Kentucky senator who made a Faustian deal with Trump to reshape the Supreme Court and the judiciary with the appointment of conservative figures now has little to gain by protecting the president as he did after the first impeachment trial.

That means McConnell and the senators who deserted the president and refused to back his efforts to thwart the transfer of power the day the mob invaded the Capitol now have a chance to effectively oust Trump from the party and from American politics to forever.

A party that tears itself apart

The impeachment debate in the House on Wednesday exposed the forces that are tearing apart Lincoln’s party. House Republicans were divided between ardent Trump supporters, lawmakers who admitted he had some responsibility for the outrageous events of the past week, and those who cast fateful votes to defect from their president.

While only 10 Republicans voted with the Democrats, this was the most bipartisan of the three previous House impeachment votes in American history. The exchanges on the floor revealed the extent to which Trump has transformed his party.

House lawmakers, who serve two-year terms, are the most receptive to the sentiments of their rank and file, so it is not surprising that many did not feel they had a choice but to stay with the president. A stream of hypocrisy, false moral equivalency and outright lies about the election results dominated the interventions by the Republican side of the chamber, reflecting the embezzlement and misinformation of Trump’s scorched earth policy.

In a slight concession to disgust on Capitol Hill over Trump’s behavior, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy argued that the president should have immediately denounced the rioters when they violated the Capitol last week. But the California Republican claimed that Democrats, not Republicans, were further dividing the nation by going ahead with impeachment. This from a Republican leader who spent two months amplifying Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, which have shattered the trust of millions of Americans in the democratic process.

Other Trump acolytes in the House showed their continued influence by arguing that the Democratic impeachment effort was nothing more than a continuation of an attempt to destroy Trump’s presidency that began just hours after he assumed power. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, a true believer, provoked mockery from Democrats when he accused them of far worse behavior than the president.

Make no mistake, the left in America has incited far more political violence than the right for months. Our cities burned, police stations burned, our businesses were destroyed. And they didn’t say anything, or they encouraged it, and they raised funds and allowed it to happen in the largest country in the world, “Gaetz said. Their comparison misrepresented the true scale of the protests against a racist police force and the horror of a never-before-seen assault on the heart of American political power.

Ultimately, the future of the Republican Party will depend on whether Gaetz or McConnell turns out to be its truest voice.

Biden, wary of impeachment

The last thing Biden could have wanted when he took control of a sick, internally divided and economically crushed nation on January 20 at noon is a political mess that could threaten to worsen the crisis.

Now you must adopt a tone of calm and unity as an impeachment trial unfolds, historically one of the most divisive varieties in political theater. The trial means that Trump’s poisoned shadow will darken the first days of his term, which he hoped to use to promote literal and political national healing.

In a statement issued Wednesday night, Biden called the assault on Capitol Hill “unlike anything we’ve witnessed in our nation’s 244-year history,” but did not directly criticize Trump by name and continued to emphasize the need. of the Senate to balance his constitutional duties with work on other pressing matters.

“From confirmations of key positions such as Secretaries of National Security, State, Defense, Treasury and the Director of National Intelligence, to launching our vaccine program and getting our economy working again. Too many of our compatriots have suffered for too long in the past year to delay this urgent work, ”said Biden.

The president-elect is one of the few regular members of Washington who believes there is scope to work across partisan lines in an attempt to forge common progress, despite years of mounting partisan bitterness. So you need Republican buy-in if you want to enact your most ambitious agenda items beyond those related to the pandemic: climate change, healthcare, and infrastructure.

But the strong political tensions of an impeachment may already have thwarted those aspirations.

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