January 12, 2020
Photos courtesy of Gage Skidmore and the Office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
On December 18th, 2019, the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Trump is the third U.S. president in history to be impeached. The extensive process has left many Americans wondering what happens next.
The House of Representatives’ impeachment will result in the likelihood of a Senate trial in early 2020. As the world anxiously awaits the Senate’s decision on how to proceed, many political figures have publicly expressed their stance on the volatile situation. The Washington Post states that the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi “will not send articles of impeachment to the Senate until she learns more about how the chamber would conduct a potential trial.” In other words, Pelosi wants to ensure that the Democratic Party is confident in the ways in which the Republican-led Senate will conduct their investigation of Trump.
A major dispute involves the debate over whether there should be witness testimony in the Senate’s impeachment trial. According to Fox News, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on January 7th that he was willing to proceed with the impeachment trial without the presence of witness testimony. Fox News continued to report that McConnell said “Fifty-one senators determine what we do and there will be, I’m sure, intense discussion — once we get past phase one — about the whole witness issue.”
Democrats are demanding witness testimony in the trials, and the majority of Senate Republicans have aligned themselves with McConnell, resulting in a contentious debate between the two political parties. In regards to the Democrats’ stance on the Senate trial, Pelosi recently proclaimed that “so far, we have not seen anything that looks fair to us.” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) also stated that Democrats will passionately vote in favor of witnesses at the start of the Senate impeachment trial. The Hill reports that Schumer responded, “Make no mistake, on the question of witnesses and documents, Republicans may run, but they can’t hide. There will be votes at the beginning on whether to call the four witnesses we’ve proposed and subpoena the documents we’ve identified.”
Adding fuel to the fire, some contend that President Trump ordered the air strikes and execution of Iranian war general Qasem Soleimani to distract the world from his recent impeachment and pending trial. On January 6th, Trump tweeted “Congress & the President should not be wasting their time and energy on a continuation of the totally partisan Impeachment Hoax when we have so many important matters pending.” Republican senators McConnell and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) seem to agree with Trump’s premise, as tensions with Iran continue to increase. Many Democrats agree that engagement with Iran serves as nothing more than a ploy to distract from Trump’s political woes.
After a recent tweet, some argued that President Trump may have threatened to commit a war crime by claiming that Iranian cultural sites “will be hit very hard and very fast” if Iran carries out military action against the United States. As the impeachment process continues, Congress will have to negotiate Trump’s trial while navigating and managing heightened tensions within the Middle East.