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.

Iran was involved in two naval incidents in the Gulf of Oman in recent days. The US, UK, and Israel have blamed Iran for a drone attack that killed two European nationals. Iran has rejected the accusations. Iran is also suspected in the "potential hijack" of a tanker off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

These provocations are happening just as Iran inaugurates a new president, Ebrahim Raisi, and as talks continue over the possible US re-entry into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. What's the connection between these events? We asked Henry Rome, Eurasia Group's deputy head of research and a director covering global macro politics and the Middle East.

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Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for Eurasia Group, shares updates on recent COVID-19 policy developments:

The Biden administration extended an eviction moratorium even after the Supreme Court said they couldn't, what's next?

Well, the CDC imposed a nationwide eviction moratorium in light of increased risk from evicted people because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Supreme Court in June ruled that they (CDC) overextended their authority in doing so and mandated that the moratorium expire on schedule in July. A group of progressive activists weren't happy about this and raised a huge stink in Congress, but Congress recessed for their August vacation before they could solve the problem, putting big pressure on President Biden to extend the moratorium even though he said he didn't think that it would pass constitutional muster. The CDC did it anyway, extending the moratorium until October 3rd, which is a time that's short enough to probably avoid it being overturned by lawsuits, but long enough that Congress has time to figure out how to either extend it on a bipartisan basis or put more money into a rental assistance fund that few people have taken advantage of so far. This whole incident shows the power of progressive activists in the Biden administration who were able to elevate the profile of this issue and potentially prevent millions of people from losing their homes this summer.

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We expect the usual suspects — US, China, Russia — to dominate the Olympic medal tally. But how should the performances of large, well-resourced countries really be assessed? Drawing on a model first developed by a team of labor economists, the Financial Times looks at a range of factors — including past medal hauls, population size, and GDP per capita — to determine whether nations have surpassed or failed to meet expectations at the Tokyo Games. We take a look at the biggest under-performers and over-performers per the model, and whether people in these countries really care about the Olympics at all.

This week, the market value of Tencent, China's biggest video game company, nosedived after a state media outlet suggested that online gaming was as addictive and destructive as opium. Tencent immediately pledged to cap the number of hours people can play, and to keep minors off its platforms.

It's the latest example of a months-long crackdown on major Chinese technology firms that until recently were viewed as some of the world's most powerful and successful companies, as well as a source of national pride. Beijing's about-face on its own tech titans could have big implications for China, and beyond.

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Whenever Burkina Faso is in the news, it's often about how the crisis-ridden country has got caught up in the crosshairs of horrific jihadist violence plaguing the Sahel.

But this week, the nation of 20 million was celebrating because Hugues Fabrice Zango won its first-ever Olympic medal after finishing third in the men's triple jump in Tokyo.

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Should people get COVID vaccine booster shots? Not yet, says the World Health Organization, which is pushing for rich nations or those with access to jabs to hold off until at least the end of September so all countries get to fully vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations before some jump ahead with boosters. But the WHO's call has fallen on deaf ears in nations like Israel, France, Germany and Russia, which are already planning to offer boosters, in part to better protect people against the more contagious delta variant. What's more, mRNA vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna are recommending supplemental doses for the same reason. The problem is that, beyond the obvious moral imperative for equal access to vaccines, if the rich continue hoarding jabs while vaccination rates stay low elsewhere, the virus will continue to thrive — and mutate into new, potentially even more infectious variants that sooner or later will reach every corner of the planet.

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80: If polar ice caps continue to melt at their current pace due to climate change, 80 percent of all emperor penguins will be wiped out by the end of the century because they need the ice for breeding and keeping their offspring safe. American authorities want to list emperor penguins, which only live in Antarctica, as an endangered species so that US fishing vessels will be required to protect them when operating in their habitat.

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