Thursday 23 January 2020

Editorial: 'Trump's sentence could be handed down by the voters'

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at Congress yesterday. Photo: Reuters
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at Congress yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Editorial

Editorial

If there is such a thing on the global stage as a "rule-taker", President Donald Trump - self-styled "Outsider in Chief" - revels in being its polar opposite.

Thus, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was uneasy with going down the road of impeachment. The smell of burning martyr wafting around a 2020 campaign might rapidly become the scent of victory, should the wind turn for Republicans.

But impeachment largely became inevitable after Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, directly implicated Mr Trump in November testimony. The revelation Mr Trump tried to pressure the Ukrainian president into investigating Joe Biden's son was a tipping point.

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Mr Biden remains his main rival in the 2020 White House race. Ms Pelosi has argued "no one is above the law", while Mr Trump characterised the entire process as a witch-hunt, and attempted coup.

He penned a bizarre letter claiming: "More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials." He also accused critics of having "Trump Derangement Syndrome".

Democrats do recognise the risks of going after a president. Whatever they uncover, he will likely be cleared by a Republican-controlled Senate.

His party and base stand by their man: millions of others are merely standing by, wondering how the political pendulum will swing. But this is not the partisan political circus some would make out. It is a legitimate exercise to establish whether grave transgressions have been made.

The president and Congress must serve as a check on each other's power as outlined in America's constitution.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. arrives the morning before the impeachment vote (Andrew Harnik/AP)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. arrives the morning before the impeachment vote (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Despite the bravado, President Trump will not be comfortable with the scrutiny.

He has not been shy in declaring his three years in office as the greatest reign of any American chief executive. The reckoning between the rhetoric and reality cannot be put on hold for ever. To enter the dock in the glare of the whole world, as only the third president to face a Senate trial, with his tenure in office at stake, was not part of his play-book.

Yet to his own, he remains a champion. As US Vice President Mike Pence puts it: "Donald Trump gets it. He's a doer in a game usually reserved for talkers. And when Donald Trump does his talking, he doesn't tiptoe around the thousand new rules of political correctness."

To his detractors he is the villain: "While Donald Trump believes in huge tax breaks for billionaires, he believes that states should actually have the right to lower the minimum wage below $7.25. What an outrage!" says Democrat Bernie Sanders.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks on Capitol Hill after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump (Susan Walsh/AP)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks on Capitol Hill after the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump (Susan Walsh/AP)

But the president now has more pressing concerns than being polarising.

According to Ms Pelosi the enormity of the situation actively imperils America's democracy.

It is: "A matter of fact that the president is an ongoing threat to our national security and the integrity of our elections." Stark claims indeed.

They will now go before Congress, and as befits a democracy, the sentence could ultimately be decided by the voters.

Irish Independent

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