Will Trump’s impeachment trial be “fair”?

Will Trump’s impeachment trial be “fair”?

Donald Trump just became the third president in US history to be impeached.

In a vote along party lines, the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved impeachment on two counts: abuse of power, for Trump's efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating his political rival Joe Biden, and obstruction of Congress, for preventing key White House witnesses from testifying in the impeachment hearings.


Democrats say the move was a legitimate defense of the Constitution. Republicans say it's a sham attempt to remove a president against the will of the people. Trump, for his part, says it's a modern day Salem witch trial (the current mayor of Salem, for the record, disagrees.)

So what comes now?
The House will send the impeachment bill to the Senate, where Trump will be put on trial, probably in January. A small team of House Democrats will lead the prosecution, the Senate will act as a jury, and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will preside.

A two-thirds supermajority of votes would be needed to convict Trump of the impeachable offenses and remove him from office. Republicans control the Senate by a 53-47 majority, meaning that 20 GOP senators would have to turn against the president in order to oust him. With Trump's approval rating among Republican voters currently above 90 percent, that outcome is about as likely as a snowman winning the Dakar Rally.

Will it be "fair"?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said that he's coordinating closely with the White House's defense team on how and when to hold the trial, and that he won't call any additional witnesses. Chief Justice Roberts could rule that McConnell has to, but precedent suggests that's unlikely.)

Democrats say this politicizes justice, and McConnell says that's exactly right: Impeachment has the structure of a criminal proceeding, but the Constitution intended this process to be political, not judicial. And since he's politically on the side of the president, that's how the cookie crumbles.

How does the public view impeachment right now?
In the latest polls, between 44 and 50 percent of respondents said Trump should be impeached and removed from office. Some of the surveys registered a slight decline in support for impeachment and removal over the past month. Regardless, this is just about as polarized an environment as you can imagine: half the country wants the president removed from office, and the other half doesn't. In that sense, it's like virtually every other question involving Donald Trump.

Will all this affect the 2020 election?
It's too early to say how impeachment will affect people's choices 11 months from now. Democrats hope that the impeachment shows they're willing to hold Trump accountable, and they'll look to draw on the impeachment revelations throughout the 2020 campaign. Trump, meanwhile, is confident that beating the rap will be the main story heading into the 2020 homestretch.

A more immediate question is whether the timing of the trial affects the field of Democrat contenders. As we wrote last week, Mitch McConnell has a delicious opportunity to mess with the primary campaign schedules of leading contenders Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others, who have to be in Washington for the Senate trial rather than out shaking hands with voters in early voting states. But it's a move that could also backfire against Trump -- learn more here.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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