The House of Representatives has impeached President Donald Trump. Now, the Republican-controlled Senate has the power to decide his fate. The Senate could hold an impeachment trial as early as January. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already indicated that she is in no hurry to send the two House-passed articles of impeachment to the Senate. These articles can trigger a trial of the president.
Jeremy Paul is a law professor and former dean of Northeastern University’s School of Law. He is of the belief that with the two chambers of Congress in a standoff over the next steps, it’s anybody’s guess what might materialise of this impeachment. The theory is that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, will ask for votes calling for witnesses to testify, including former national security advisor John Bolton, and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, over Trump’s actions involving Ukraine. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he doesn’t want any witnesses during the trial. Thus, it’s unlikely for Schumer and McConnell to reach an understanding. In the past, McConnell has proven that he can do a lot of things that would anger a reasonable public. His actions are also contingent upon how much pressure he receives from Republican senators who are up for re-election in 2020 in states that are not Republican, including Susan Collins of Maine and Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
Paul says that Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts doesn’t set the rules of the trial but the Senate. He only presides over the trial and his goal will be to be perceived by the public as being a neutral arbiter. A two-thirds majority in the Senate is required to remove Trump from office, but the outcome of the trial appears to be “preordained”. For Paul, the real question is whether the country will figure out how to confront a polarised situation.
“That, I think, is one of the most dangerous things about our current political situation. The goal is to get back to a point where you’re operating with the same set of facts and a shared set of goals”, says Paul.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman