A very messy impeachment

A very messy impeachment

Donald Trump's second impeachment trial kicks off Tuesday, just a year after he was acquitted in the US Senate over his 2019 dealings with the Ukrainians to try and find dirt on Joe Biden's family. The former president is now charged with inciting the US Capitol insurrection.

A majority of Senate Republicans have already opposed the constitutionality of the process, making another acquittal all but assured. So, why does it matter at all this time? Here are three questions to ponder.

Is it worth the time and trouble? With the country still grappling with the twin crises of the pandemic and its economic fallout, impeaching a former president who's already been voted out of power strikes many as a time-consuming exercise with a preordained outcome. Some lawmakers fear the trial will distract Congress from taking swift action on more urgent priorities, like ramping up COVID vaccinations or passing badly-needed stimulus relief for businesses and individuals.

Congress can walk and chew gum at the same time, but past experience shows it rarely does. Also, if Dems had waited much longer, they would've lost the political momentum to hold Trump accountable while the events of January 6 are still fresh in the memory of the American people — and especially their own voters.

Recent polls show that a majority of Americans (52 percent) believe the former president should be impeached for his actions leading up to the Capitol riot, although voters from the two parties are sharply divided: on average almost 89 percent of Democrats support removing Trump, compared to less than 14 percent of Republicans.

What do the Democrats stand to lose, and possibly win? Even if the trial is as speedy as the Democrats say it'll be, they'll need to spend at least some political capital on calling witnesses, holding key votes, and negotiating the entire process with the GOP. This time the Democrats are in control, but with the slimmest of majorities.

While the Biden administration continues to ride high on above-par approval ratings, congressional Democrats will not enjoy the same honeymoon period. They need to deliver immediately on President Biden's agenda, and many priority issues — such as legislation on climate change and immigration — will require bipartisan support. If the trial is conducted in what is perceived to be a highly partisan way, the Senate Democrats may lose the five moderate Republicans who have so far expressed support for the process.

On the other hand, getting Republicans on the record either defending Trump or simply voting to acquit provides the Dems with more fodder to attack vulnerable Senate Republicans in the 2022 midterms, where Democrats will be defending less seats and aim to flip several states in a map that's looking increasingly purple.

How will impeachment affect the GOP's post-Trump future? Unless 17 Republican senators unexpectedly turn on Trump, the former president will escape conviction (and a subsequent permanent ban on holding public office). That means he'll not only bear no official responsibility for his role in egging on the mob — he will see himself as again vindicated, in a stronger position than he was in a month ago to influence the future of the Republican Party, and free to run in 2024.

We've barely heard from Trump since he was banned from Twitter and other social media platforms after his inflammatory speech right before the Capitol was stormed. His standing among traditional Republicans took a hit days later when 10 GOP lawmakers voted to impeach him in the House, but the former president quickly recovered and still commands cult-like loyalty from the base of the party.

Once the second "not guilty" verdict is handed down, Trump will have won a major battle in the ongoing GOP civil war.

Both sides have much at stake, but... The choice for Democrats was clear — it was never about whether to impeach but rather when. For the GOP, however, Trump's impeachment 2.0 could well be a make-or-break moment that determines whether the party's future remains tied to the former president for the next few years.

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Should you believe the hype(rsonic)?

Over the past few months, US officials have become increasingly alarmed about a new type of killing machines called "hypersonic weapons."

The top US General, Mark Milley, said that China's successful test of an advanced hypersonic weapon earlier this year was "very close" to a "Sputnik moment" – referring to the Soviet Union's surprise launch of the world's first artificial satellite in 1957, which raised fears that the US was lagging behind a formidable technological rival.

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When Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all counts, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who created the "1619 Project" tweeted: "In this country, you can even kill white people and get away with it if those white people are fighting for Black lives. This is the legacy of 1619." In an upcoming interview with Ian Bremmer, she explains why she saw the verdict as a consequence of this country's long history of double standards when it comes to racial justice. "The fact that we own more guns in this country than any other country is certainly a legacy of 1619" Hannah-Jones says. "This idea that white Americans can patrol, that they have the right to open carry, this is not something that Black Americans can engage in, in the same way." Watch her full conversation with Ian Bremmer in an upcoming episode of GZERO World.

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at Peng Shuai's public appearance, El Salvador's "Bitcoin City," and Americans' Thanksgiving celebrations.

Why has China silenced its famous tennis player, Peng Shuai?

Well, they haven't completely silenced her in the sense that the head of the IOC, the International Olympic Committee with Beijing Olympics coming up, basically told the Chinese government, "hey, what is the absolute minimum that you can do so that we can get Beijing Olympics back on track?" And they did the absolute minimum, which was a half an hour phone call with her that felt like kind of a hostage phone call. But nonetheless, she says that she is fine and is private and doesn't want to talk about the fact that she had accused the former Vice Premier of sexually assaulting her. That is a fairly heady charge. It was clear, going to get a lot of headlines in the run-up to the Olympics. And she wasn't heard from after that. So big problem for the Chinese in the run-up to the Olympics.

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What We're Watching: Biden's oil dilemma, Abiy Ahmed takes up arms, Iran nuclear talks on life-support

Biden's oil dilemma. The Biden administration says it will releasing some 50 million barrels of crude from US stockpiles in a bid to reign in soaring gasoline prices. Similar moves were made by Japan, South Korea, and China in recent days as global energy prices rise and supplies remain scarce in many places amid the ongoing economic recovery. Pain at the gas pump and broader inflation concerns in the US have contributed to Biden's tanking poll numbers. With Republicans poised to do well in next year's midterm elections, the president is under pressure to turn things around fast. But Biden has already come under fire from environmental groups, who say the president's move flies in the face of his Glasgow commitments to reduce rather than boost fossil fuel consumption. But in domestic politics, bread-and-butter issues are paramount, and if Biden doesn't "fix" the gas problem hurting American families, the Democrats could suffer a beating at the polls. What's more, Biden has also angered the 23-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which worries that extra US oil on the market will bring down prices for their own crude. Now the organization is warning that it might renege on an earlier promise to produce more oil.

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A view shows the site where a bus with North Macedonian plates caught fire on a highway, near the village of Bosnek, Bulgaria, November 23, 2021.

45: At least 45 people – including several children – were killed in Bulgaria Tuesday when a bus caught fire while traveling on a highway back from Istanbul. Poor infrastructure and road safety have resulted in Bulgaria recording the second-highest number of traffic fatalities in the European Union after Romania.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and happy week to you, happy Monday. Just back from Singapore, and of course, I arrive in the United States and political insanity on a whole bunch of things. The thing that really struck me was the Rittenhouse acquittal. Kyle Rittenhouse, this young man who brings an AR-15 to riots and ends up shooting and killing two people, injuring a third, and found not guilty unanimously by the jury on all counts. And the country, as expected in these things... And this is by far the legal case that's gotten the most attention in years, and the response of the country is absolutely polarized, and so depressing to me.

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What are the Russians up to with Ukraine?

Well, we don't know. But what we do know is that they are concentrating quite substantial military forces, moving towards the borders with Ukraine at the same time as they are de facto stopping the diplomatic dialogue with them. Very strong message coming from Washington and from the European capitals that they should abstain from early military operation. But you never know. It is a fairly sort of worrying situation.

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