The impeachment trial against Donald Trump kicked off January 22, 2020 as managers from the House of Representatives read the formal charges against the United States president in front of the Senate. President Trump is accused of abuse of power because he allegedly bribed Ukraine’s leader with military aid to dig up damaging information on a political rival. The day is historic because Donald Trump is only the third President being impeached in the country’s existence.
The Impeachment Articles (Accusations)
In July 2019, Donald Trump urged Ukrainia’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former US Vice-President Joe Biden, who is a political rival in the 2020 election, as well as Mr Biden’s son.
This matters, opposition Democrats say, because it is illegal to ask foreign entities for help to smear a political rival in order to win a US election. Donald Trump says he has done nothing wrong. After the impeachment inquiry, Donald Trump was impeached in December. A trial has now started that could lead to the president being removed.
Backstory Impeachment Trump and Past Resentment
The Republicans claim that the impeachment trial against Trump (‘their’ President) is false, politically motivated and only attempts to keep Donald Trump from being reelected in 2020. Politically motivated It may very well be, because democrats feel that the Presidency of the USA should not be in the hands of a man who ‘flirts’ with foreign powers to strengthen his political position at home.
This is not the first time Trump has been scrutinized over his foreign connections. His 2016 election campaign was investigated over its alleged ties to Russia. The inquiry didn’t establish a criminal conspiracy to influence the election, but it also didn’t exonerate the President of obstructing justice.
The Impeachment Trial
The Impeachment trial is held in the Senate. After hearing all witnesses and arguments of both prosecution and defense, the Senate will deliberate in private and vote to convict or acquit. To convict the President, a significant number of Republican senators have to vote against ‘their’ President which is unlikely but not impossible. To increase the chance of the senate voting to convict the president, Chuck Schumer the Senate minority leader explains in the above video why he wants four additional witnesses to testify.
Of course the Senate Wants To Acquit President Trump
For Republican Senators the continuation of Republican Political power is at stake. Unless the accusations are beyond any doubt, the largely republican Senate will vote to acquit the President. Therefore the strategy of Trump’s defense is focussed on creating uncertainty about the allegations in the impeachment articles and ensuring that the Senate does not call any further witness hearings, particularly that of former national security adviser John Bolton.
John Bolton alleges that Trump told him over the summer that he wanted to continue holding military aid to Ukraine until the country helped with investigations into his potential political opponents.
John Bolton is the smoking gun. If he testifies what he claims under oath, there is no way for the Senate to deny the allegations laid out in the Impeachment Articles. And Trump would need to be convicted. But without Bolton’s testimony, the Senate will acquit the President.