Trump’s impeachment trial in Senate officially begins

UNTV News   •   January 17, 2020   •   218

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (Front L) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (Front R) lead impeachment managers walking to the Senate chamber before being sworn-in at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on 16 January 2020. The Senate impeachment trial of US President Donald J. Trump started with the reading of the articles of impeachment on the Senate floor by House managers and the swearing-in of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and senators. The trial is to get under way in earnest on 21 January 2020. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

Washington – The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump officially kicked off on Thursday in the Senate with the reading of the charges that the United States’ lower house approved last month.

Substantial trial proceedings, however, will not begin until Tuesday afternoon.

The chairman of the House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff (D-CA), who will head a group of seven House managers prosecuting the case, was tasked with reading the two articles of impeachment to the members of the Republican-controlled Senate.

The first charge of “abuse of power” states that Trump used the power of his office to solicit “the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States presidential election.”

That accusation stems from an allegation that during a phone call last July Trump sought personal political gain by improperly pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce an investigation into the alleged interference years ago of US former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, in a probe of his son Hunter’s business dealings in Ukraine.

The lower house found that Trump also improperly pushed Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation into a “discredited theory promoted by Russia alleging that Ukraine – rather than Russia – interfered in the 2016 United States presidential election.”

The House alleges that Trump exerted pressure by freezing nearly $400 million of US military and security aid to Ukraine about a week before he talked to Zelensky and delaying a head of state meeting between the two leaders at the White House.

Trump, who says the aid – eventually released on Sept. 11 – was withheld due to his frustration with what he considered to be an insufficient amount of monetary assistance provided to Ukraine by other countries, says the rough transcript of the phone call that the White House released on Sept. 25 shows he did nothing wrong.

The second article of impeachment accuses the president of “obstruction of Congress,” for directing executive branch agencies, offices and officials not to comply with subpoenas seeking documents and testimony deemed vital to the House’s inquiry.

Trump and his supporters say the constitution gives presidents broad constitutional grounds for resisting such demands from the legislative branch for privileged executive material unless a court compels them to produce it.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had delayed sending over the charges under the argument that she first needed to know what rules would govern the Senate trial.

Democrats say a fair trial can only be assured if the senators, who will act as jury in the impeachment case, hear from witnesses who did not testify during the proceedings in the House. It still remains to be seen whether 51 senators will vote to do so.

Since the approval of the impeachment articles, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has proposed a procedure modeled on the one the Senate followed in 1998 during the impeachment of Democratic President Bill Clinton.

On that occasion, senators listened to presentations from the prosecution and the defense before holding a vote on whether to call witnesses.

On Thursday afternoon, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was sworn in to oversee the impeachment trial. He then proceeded to swear in all 100 senators – 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents (who caucus with the Democrats) – as jurors for the proceedings.

Trump is only the third US president to be impeached.

Both Andrew Johnson – in 1868 – and Clinton were acquitted in the Senate, while Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before the lower house could vote on his impeachment.

Under the Constitution, the approval of articles of impeachment in the House is to be followed by a trial in the Senate, where it takes a two-thirds majority to remove the president from office.

Due to Republicans’ control of that upper chamber, a conviction is considered highly unlikely. EFE-EPA

ssa/mc

Trump takes a limousine lap before Daytona 500 auto race

UNTV News   •   February 17, 2020

President Donald Trump took a loop around the Daytona 500 racetrack on Sunday (February 16) in the presidential limousine known as “The Beast,” drawing cheers from fans at NASCAR’S most prestigious race.

Ramping up his nationwide re-election effort after his acquittal in the U.S. Senate impeachment trial, Trump served as the grand marshal at the annual National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing event, which takes place in the electoral swing state of Florida.

After his motorcade made its way around part of the track, Trump took a break to take pictures with supporters.

After being driven a full lap in the limo before the race began, Trump delivered the opening line: “Gentlemen, start your engines” at the Daytona International Speedway before a crowd of 100,000.

Previous presidents who attended NASCAR events at the speedway include Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

Florida is one of a handful of U.S. states that swing between Democrats and Republicans in presidential elections.

Trump won the state, where he has golf courses and a home that is now considered his primary residence, in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. (Reuters)

(Production: Pavithra George)

Trump celebrates impeachment acquittal, lashes out at political foes

UNTV News   •   February 7, 2020

US President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump, facing a bruising re-election campaign and possible further investigations in Congress, celebrated his acquittal on impeachment charges on Thursday (February 6) in a speech that drew on White House pomp to underscore the fact that he remained in office.

After walking down a red carpet to a standing ovation from scores of Republican lawmakers, administration officials and conservative media figures in the White House, Trump re-aired old grievances and accused Democrats of staging a “corrupt” effort to undermine his presidency.

“We went through hell unfairly. Did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. I’ve done things wrong in my life, I will admit. Not purposely. But I’ve done things wrong. But this is what the end result is,” he said as he held up a morning newspaper, with a headline reading “Trump acquitted.”

“And there’s nothing from a legal standpoint, this is a political thing. And every time I’d say ‘this is unfair, let’s go to court’, they say ‘sir, you can’t go to court, this is politics’. And we were treated unbelievably unfairly. And you have to understand, we first went through ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’. It was all bullshit. We then went through the Mueller report,” he added.

The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday voted to acquit Trump on charges bought by the Democratic-led House of Representatives, only the third time in U.S. history that a president has been impeached.

The acquittal was Trump’s biggest victory yet over his Democratic foes in Congress, who attacked Senate Republicans for refusing to call witnesses or seek new evidence at the trial. (Reuters)

(Production: Mana Rabiee)

US Senate acquits Donald Trump of Impeachment charges

UNTV News   •   February 6, 2020

US President Donald Trump

REUTERS — President Donald Trump was acquitted on Wednesday (February 5) in his U.S. Senate impeachment trial, saved by fellow Republicans who rallied to protect him nine months before he asks voters in a deeply divided America to give him a second White House term.

The businessman-turned-politician, 73, survived only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history – just like the two other impeached presidents – in his turbulent presidency’s darkest chapter. Trump now plunges into an election season that promises to further polarize the country.

Trump was acquitted largely along party lines on two articles of impeachment approved by the Democratic-led House of Representatives on Dec. 18, with the votes falling far short of the two-thirds majority required in the 100-seat Senate to remove him under the U.S. Constitution.

The Senate voted 52-48 to acquit him of abuse of power stemming from his request that Ukraine investigate political rival Joe Biden, a contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the Nov. 3 election. Republican Senator Mitt Romney joined the Democrats in voting to convict. No Democrat voted to acquit.

The Senate then voted 53-47 to acquit him of obstruction of Congress by blocking witnesses and documents sought by the House. A conviction on either count would have elevated Vice President Mike Pence, another Republican, into the presidency. Romney joined the rest of the Republican senators in voting to acquit on the obstruction charge. No Democrat voted to acquit.

On each of the two charges, the senators voted one by one on the Senate floor with U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts presiding.

(Production: Mana Rabiee)

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