Quick Take: Trump will be acquitted, impeachment is now broken

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and I've got your Quick Take for the week. The second impeachment trial in the Senate of President Trump, now former President Trump, begins. And Lindsey Graham, Republican senator, has said that we all know what's going to happen. He's right. It's going to be close to a party line vote. A couple senators, maybe a handful, will vote to convict, but the large majority will vote to acquit, which says quite something.


The numbers have moved against Trump to be clear. Back in January, 47% of Americans were saying that the Senate should vote to remove Trump from office. In the last couple of days, those numbers, same poll, both ABC are behind it, 56% of Americans now support the Senate removing Trump. But still, close to a party line vote.

Remember, Trump never quite hit 50% in terms of approval ratings, but that didn't stop him from becoming president, didn't stop him from having an incredible hold on the Republican Party, and that is still true. Most Republicans support Trump. Most support Republicans support Trumpism, and most senators believe they will pay a price, a significant price if they vote against Trump in this impeachment hearing, which is a serious problem. It's all about what you're willing to do publicly for power as opposed to what you believe privately. And there's an enormous gap between the two. We saw that play out over the past several days. Some 11 Republicans prepared to vote in the House to ban Marjorie Taylor Green, the QAnon supporting, legitimately crazy, member of the House, newly elected member of the House from Georgia. 145 Republicans in the House, a strong majority, voted secret ballot in favor of keeping Liz Cheney in her leadership role, despite the fact that she had voted to impeach Trump. And in fact, Liz Cheney this weekend on Fox News, a Fox News interview, actually said about her views of that impeachment vote, what we already know constitutes the gravest violation of his oath of office by any president in the history of the country and this is not something we can simply look past or pretend didn't happen or try to move on. We've got to make sure this never happens again.

Well, certainly if the conviction vote was by secret ballot, maybe that would mean something, but it's not. And so to be very clear, Trump is going to be acquitted. He will be able to run again. And perhaps most importantly, the consequences for sedition, the consequences for actively calling for an insurrection and taking every step possible to overturn the legitimate results of a free and fair election do not include impeachment. Impeachment, I mean, if it doesn't apply for that, then it no longer works. And that's what the American political system is putting on display in the coming weeks, is that impeachment is broken as a political mechanism, which undermines the separation of and the balance of powers in the United States, the world's most powerful representative democracy.

I thought it was interesting, the Economist Intelligence Unit came out last week with the fact that the United States is considered in its model to be a flawed democracy. My only question was what took them so long? This isn't new. It's been coming for decades and the erosion has happened slowly but still very real. And the ability of the United States to make the argument that we're back internationally only makes sense if, and we'll gain alignment from all the allies, if they really believe that this can't happen in the US again. There's no reason to believe that. In fact, there's every reason to believe that it can and will happen again, because it's not about Trump. It's about anti-establishment sentiment in the United States growing much greater as the political institutions are seen to be rigged. And that is both true of the electoral process and now it's true of the impeachment process. It's not everything, it's not the military, it's not the judiciary, but very big pieces of the American political franchise increasingly do not work.

You know, some countries are hybrid economies in the sense that they're sort of between free market and state controlled. Increasingly, the United States is kind of a hybrid democracy. Some of it functions and some of it doesn't. And the fact that the US, because it's so incredibly wealthy and therefore stable, can continue to power through this and not deal with those challenges is itself a problem because it means that you don't address them. And as much as Biden as president himself is oriented to trying to address these challenges, it's very hard to imagine he's going to have a lot of success and the reason will be on full display in the Senate over the next couple of weeks.

So, that's it for me. I hope everyone's being safe, and avoiding people, and be good. Talk to you soon.

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Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

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Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

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For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

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Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the NBA's latest rift with China, Brazil's Senate investigation, and COVID booster shots.

China wipes Boston Celtics from NBA broadcast after the "Free Tibet" speech from Enes Kanter. Is NBA boxing itself into a corner?

Nice mixed sports metaphor there. NBA has some challenges because they are of course the most progressive on political and social issues in the United States among sports leagues, but not when it comes to China, their most important international market. And you've seen that with LeBron James telling everyone about we need to learn better from the Communist Party on issues like Hong Kong and how Daryl Morey got hammered for taking his stance in favor of Hong Kong democracy. Well, Enes Kanter's doing the same thing and he's a second-string center. Didn't even play yesterday and still the Chinese said that they were not going to air any Boston Celtics games. Why? Because he criticized the Chinese government and had some "Free Tibet" sneakers. This is a real problem for a lot of corporations out there, but particularly publicly, the NBA. Watch for a bunch of American politicians to make it harder for the NBA going forward, saying how dare you kowtow to the Chinese when you're all about "Black Lives Matter" inside the United States. No fun.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

A Trump media platform? Is this for real?

This week, President Trump announced his potential return to social media through the creation of his own digital media platform that's going to merge with an existing publicly-traded company in a deal known as a SPAC. These deals are increasingly popular for getting access to capital, and it seems like that's where President Trump is headed.

The publicly-traded company's stock was up on the news, but it's really hard to see this coming together. The Trump media company claims it wants to go up against not only Facebook and Twitter, but companies like Amazon and cloud computing and even Disney providing a safe space for conservatives to share their points of view. The fact of the matter is, conservatives do quite well on existing social media platforms when they aren't being kicked off for violating the terms of service, and other conservative social media platforms that have attempted to launch this year haven't really gone off the ground.

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Protests in Sudan: Protests are again shaking the Sudanese capital, as supporters of rival wings of the transitional government take to the streets. Back in 2019, after popular demonstrations led to the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, a deal was struck between civilian activists and the army, in which a joint civilian-military government would run the country until fresh elections could be held in 2023. But now supporters of the military wing are calling on it to dissolve the government entirely, while supporters of the civilian wing are counter-protesting. Making matters worse, a pro-military tribal leader in Eastern Sudan has set up a blockade which is interrupting the flow of goods and food to the capital. The US, which backs the civilian wing, has sent an envoy to Khartoum as tensions rise, while Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all vying for a piece as well.

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