Will the impeachment trial affect Trump?
12 de noviembre de 2019

A sitting president has never been tried for the crimes committed in office, as is intended to be the case with Donald Trump, which is why the US Office of Legal Counsel has published an extensive report on the legal basis this may have. Therefore, the recent announcement of consultations has nothing to do with criminal prosecutions for violating federal law. However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the criminal action could lay the groundwork for impeachment proceedings.

The powers of challenge are clearly set out in the Constitution, with nothing to be left to interpretation. According to article II, Section 4, the crimes for which the president, vice president or federal official can be prosecuted are “treason, bribery, or other serious crimes and offenses.” Article I, Section 2 provides that the «exclusive power of impeachment» lies with the House of Representatives, a body of 435 members in relation to the population of the State. All that is required to initiate an investigation is the announcement and vote of the House. A simple majority vote on a list of charges yet to be proven was imposed against the president, on the grounds that his actions violated the oath of office.

The Senate, for its part, has the “exclusive power to try all charges in an impeachment trial”, which means it is the court of first instance, which all members  

serving as judge and jury. Since the House of the Senate only votes for the Senate to investigate, it is entirely up to Senate decide whether to hold a trial when impeachment charges are brought in the house. The democrats have a majority of 234 seats in this one, where the trial takes place and the sentence is handed down, they have only 45,  and two more independents. 

In late September, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi announced that they would initiate formal impeachment investigations against President Trump in light of accusations against him for using his position as commander-in-chief to persuade a foreign power to tarnish the reputation of a political rival. These accusations include talks between him and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which the US president asks the latter to investigate the son of Joe Biden, a very prominent and promising Democratic presidential candidate for the 2020 elections. Pelosi and her supporters claim that the president violated his oath by asking a personal favour for political gain. Trump has stated that the conversation Pelosi and the media are referring to did take place, but that in doing so he didn’t commit treachery, subornation or crime in any form. 

The democratic party has been warning of its intentions for some time, without implementing them, ao the formal announcement came as a surprise to many. After the special investigation and Robert Mueller’s inform, no further action was taken. To do it at this time, as well as to base the impeachment trial on those specific grounds, is significant. With the 2020 election just around the corner, the outcome of the process could help or hurt presidential hopefuls in a number of ways.

With the 2020 elections just around the corner, the outcome of the process could help or hurt the presidential hopefuls

The investigation into Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial passed the House of the representative’s through a bipartisan effort, but public support and the backing of his party led to his acquittal.Many have said that, in Trump’s case, this is an attack by the House Republican party itself, which only wants to bring down one opponent. But no republican has supported the impeachment trial so far. Instead of using the Mueller’s report, which found some irregularities, they are choosing to use the les investigated aspects of the conversation with the ukrainian president, and thus have less information on which to base the accusation. 

It is possible that if the Senate absolves Trump, or the judge doesn’t take place, this will led to a hardening of party lines and and increased public support for the president. The democrats, should they succeed in moving trial to the Senate, could use it as a strategy to tarnish Trump’s image in the public eye, but the president is already quite unpopular for other reasons, so it seems unlikely that this will further contamine his reputation. 

When Clinton was removed, his approval rating increased after the Senate acquitted him. Trump’s removal from office entail a bid risk for democrats, because if the trial is moved to the Senate, it is unlikely to go forward. If he were to vote for the trial, there would probably enough evidence to convict him under the current charges. If, in fact, Trump had used his position as commander in-chief to put pressure on ukrainian president, it would be unethical, but with the evidence that exists right now, it would also not be enough to demonstrate the treason or bribery, since no assets have been changed. 

As impeachment proceedings progressed in the House, the Senate republicans have remained silent, as they could become jurors and want to be impartials. Since the resolution to formalize the investigation passed in the House all eyes will now turn to the Senate. Democrats have the opportunity od stain the image of the president, but it’s less favourable that finally he be judged. Rather, it could have the opposite effect, and improves Trump’s ratings as the March 2020 primary approaches. 

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