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Pelosi Wants to Impeach: Here's What That Means

Pelosi Wants to Impeach: Here's What That Means

After resisting calls to impeach President Trump for months, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did a startling about-face on Tuesday, announcing that the process will now officially begin. There's a lot of commentary floating around about what happened and what it all means. Here's what you need to know.


Impeachment: What it is and what it isn't The US Constitution gives Congress the power to remove a president for "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." Impeachment, which is just one part of that process, refers only to the decision by the House of Representatives to bring those charges against the president, which will then be taken to the Senate for trial. It's important to emphasize that being impeached is not the same thing as being removed from office. Just ask former Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, both of whom were impeached but served out their terms. Impeachment is a political process, not a judicial one, meaning that partisan interpretation of what constitutes an impeachable offense varies.

Why now? For months, Pelosi resisted calls for impeachment amid concerns that the political circus that ensued could hurt Democrats' 2020 election chances. Voter appetite for impeachment is low – hovering at around 35 percent at the beginning of this month – and Pelosi has been reluctant to risk her party's already-tenuous majority in the House.

But new allegations that Trump attempted to pressure Ukraine's president into investigating 2020 Democratic front runner Joe Biden and his son – which could constitute an impeachable abuse of power – changed her calculus. That may be because of how serious the allegations are: they are part of a whistle-blower complaint from the intelligence community that the Trump administration has so far withheld from Congress. But it's also likely because moderate Democrats representing swing districts have now, in light of the Ukraine allegations, publicly come out in support of impeachment, bringing the number of pro-impeachment House Democrats to 208 out of 235. Because those moderates are the ones who have the most at stake if this process backfires against the Democrats, Pelosi had little choice but to respond.

What's the actual process? Pelosi has asked six House committees to gather evidence on potential offenses committed by the president and present them to the Judiciary Committee for a final determination on whether "articles of impeachment" (charges) are warranted. If so, then to send the process forward, a simple majority of the House (218 members) must vote for impeachment. If that happens, the president would go on trial before the Senate, where a two-thirds supermajority of votes would be needed to remove the president from office. So far, top Republican Senator Mitch McConnell has kept his cards close to his chest, but there's no indication that the GOP-controlled Senate would do such a thing.

Does Trump want to be impeached? He has publicly signaled that he sees the impeachment proceeding as based on misinformation. From a strategic perspective, Trump may be betting that weak public support for impeachment will in fact help him at the polls (Pelosi's long-time worry). And we know that Trump is at his political best when he is lashing out against enemies, both real and imagined. But the risk for him is that impeachment throws such a constant and unwavering light on allegations of his misconduct, that he ends up having to run for re-election not only against his Democratic opponent, but also against the revelations of the impeachment itself.

What's next? Pelosi has not given a timeframe for this process, other than to say it would be done "expeditiously." But if precedent is anything to go by, it will drag on for many months. And it's bound to get ugly.

Microsoft released a new annual report, called the Digital Defense Report, covering cybersecurity trends from the past year. This report makes it clear that threat actors have rapidly increased in sophistication over the past year, using techniques that make them harder to spot and that threaten even the savviest targets. For example, nation-state actors are engaging in new reconnaissance techniques that increase their chances of compromising high-value targets, criminal groups targeting businesses have moved their infrastructure to the cloud to hide among legitimate services, and attackers have developed new ways to scour the internet for systems vulnerable to ransomware. Given the leap in attack sophistication in the past year, it is more important than ever that steps are taken to establish new rules of the road for cyberspace: that all organizations, whether government agencies or businesses, invest in people and technology to help stop attacks; and that people focus on the basics, including regular application of security updates, comprehensive backup policies, and, especially, enabling multi-factor authentication. Microsoft summarized some of the most important insights in this year's report, including related suggestions for people and businesses.

Read the whole post and report at Microsoft On The Issues.

Donald Trump's presidency has irked a lot of people around the world. And in fairness, that's no surprise. He was elected in part to blow up long-standing assumptions about how international politics, trade, and diplomatic relations are supposed to work.

But while he has correctly identified some big challenges — adapting NATO to the 21st century, managing a more assertive China, or ending America's endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — his impulsive style, along with his restrictions on trade and immigration, have alienated many world leaders. Global polls show that favorable views of the US have plummeted to all-time lows in many countries, particularly among traditional American allies in Europe.

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GZERO Media, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group, today hosted its second virtual town hall on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine and the challenges of its distribution.

The panel was moderated by New York Times science and health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli and featured Gates Foundation's Deputy Director of Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Lynda Stuart; Eurasia Group's Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director of Energy, Climate & Resources; Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman; and Gayle E. Smith, the president & CEO of ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Watch the full video above.

The enormous scale of the coronavirus pandemic was captured earlier this week as the global death toll surpassed 1 million people. As the weight of the grim milestone sunk in, the New York Times noted that COVID-19 has now killed more people this year than the scourges of HIV, malaria, influenza, and cholera — combined. While some countries like Germany and South Korea are models in how to curb the virus' spread through social distancing and mask wearing, other countries around the world have recently seen caseloads surge again, raising fears of a dreaded "second wave" of infections. Here's a look at countries where the per-capita caseload has spiked in recent days.

"The jury is out" European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde says when asked if things in Europe will get economically worse before they get better. "All I know is that it's going to be a journey, and probably a long journey." Her conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of a new GZERO World episode.

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