Trump will be under impeachment cloud during State of the Union
New York, Feb. 4 (IANS): The arduous four-month-long impeachment of US President Donald Trump has drawn to a close, but he will still be under its cloud when he faces the nation on Tuesday with his State of the Union address as the definite vote to acquit him will be only on Wednesday.
The Democrat prosecutors from the House of Representatives finally closed their case on Monday with an appeal to Senators to convict him, and his lawyers asking for the President’s acquittal.
In closing arguments, the leading prosecutor, Adam Schiff, denounced Trump as a person without an “ethical compass”, adding that he cannot be trusted.
Therefore, he said that the President should be removed or history will judge the senators harshly.
Meawhile, Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, denounced the impeachment as an attempt to nullify the will of the people who elected Trump and the case against him was only incidental because Democrats had decided immediately after this election to try to remove him from office.
One of the prosecutors, Hakeem Jeffries, who quoted from the Bible, said that the nation could not wait for the November election to oust Trump from power because he could cheat in the election and it may not be free and fair.
In the end it was all grandstanding by the Democrats and attempts at high drama because even before the impeachment process began in September it was an acknowledged fact that there won’t be a two-thirds majority in the Senate to convict Trump.
Despite the certainty of failure to convict Trump and throw him out of office, the impeachment was an opportunity to embarrass the President over a four-month period and try to turn his supporters against him in the forthcoming election by relentlessly focusing on the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice.
Democrat Senator Joe Manchini suggested to the Senate that it instead consider censuring him, which would only take a simple majority.
Some Republicans like Lamar Alexander, who has criticised Trump’s conduct, could join in a censure motion.
Another Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski, said Trump’s behaviour of giving more importance to his personal needs over national interests “was shameful and wrong”.
But Murkowski added that she would not vote to convict Trump as it would contribute to the destruction of national institutions.
The voters should decide Trump’s future in the election that is nine months away, she said.
She also had harsh words for Congress, which she said “wallowed in the partisan mud”.
However, Manchini, who is from West Viginia, said on Monday evening that he had not yet decided which way he would vote on conviction.
He is one of four Democrats who are considered as possible defectors to the Republican side to vote against convicting Trump.
They come from states which lean Republican and where Trump had done well in the 2016 elections and may not want to antagonise Republicans who voted for them.
A vote on the verdict to convict or acquit had been expected on Monday after four hours of arguments by the prosecution and the defence, but it was postponed to Wednesday to give senators a chance to blow off steam or to explain their positions.
Senators were not allowed to speak during the Senate trial based on the impeachment charges voted by the House in December and they were required to send written questions for the prosecutors or the defence to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who presided over the trial.
Roberts left the Senate chamber after the closing arguments to allow the senators speak during sessions that are not a formal part of the trial. He will return on Wednesday for the verdict vote.
Democrats tried to get the Senate to agree to hear witnesses in the trial, but the effort was defeated by just one vote even after two Republican senators defected to the Democratic side.
If the Senate had agreed to calling witnesses, the trial could have stretched for weeks as the Republicans could also have summoned others to testify.
The charges of abuse of power arise from Trump asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the dealing of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in that country.
Hunter Biden was made a director of a Ukrainian gas company with a monthly payment of over $50,000 despite having no experience in the area and his father said that he had gotten Ukraine’s leaders to fire a prosecutor looking into the company.
The Democrats say that this was inviting a foreign country to intervene in US elections and was compounded by freezing military aid to Ukraine.
They wanted to call The Senate had voted down Democrat demands for calling witnesses at the start of the trial last week, but it received renewed momentum from a New York Times disclosures that Bolton had written in a manuscript for a yet to be published book that Trump had linked the aid freeze to the probe of Bidens.
Trump has denied that he had linked aid to the probe and Bolton was saying that sell his book.
Trump’s lawyers said that the aid was withheld only to ensure that the new president was committed to fighting corruption and getting other European countries to pitch in.