University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Impeachment: The presidential panto persists

Rebecca Spencer

ByRebecca Spencer

Feb 3, 2020
Department of Defense senior leaders attend the 9/11 Observance Ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Sept. 11, 2017. During the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, 184 people were killed at the Pentagon. (DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

By Louis Johnson – Comment Sub-Editor

The president of the United States – Donald Trump, alleged grabber of pussy, the Notorious L.I.E. (having exceeded a whopping 16,000 false claims),  and purported international war criminal – is now facing trial at the US Senate, following his impeachment.

By the time this article comes to print, the Senate will have voted on whether to hear new witnesses and evidence in the trial. It is unlikely this will happen though, as the Republicans control the Senate, none of whom voted for President Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives on either charges (Abuse of Power & Obstruction of Congress). In this case, there will be a vote on whether to remove him from office, or to acquit him of the charges. This vote is likely to follow the same trend of party interest.

President Trump stands accused of both abusing his presidential powers and obstructing Congress. Much like accusations of his committal of a war crime against Iran, he stands accused of pressuring Ukraine’s President into launching investigations into Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, and his son, to boost his chances of re-election later this year (Abuse of Power). He later ordered the executive branches of the government not to comply with the House’s subpoenas which sought to acquire documents and testimonies for the case (Obstruction of Congress).

President Trump is not the first president to be impeached by the House of Representatives, he joins two others: Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson – neither were removed from the White House. Clinton was impeached after his denial of having sexual relations with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, on the basis that he had breached his oath to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. This seems rather petty considering President Trump’s inability to speak without a seeming barrage of falsehoods flying ferociously out of his little orange mouth.

Similar to President Trump, is fellow Republican Richard Nixon. Although he was never formally impeached, he was subject to the impeachment process following the Watergate Scandal. The Watergate Scandal saw the Democratic Party’s National Committee headquarters broken into and it was later found that the five men who broke in were linked to Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign. Sound familiar?

Richard Nixon resigned after it was found out he attempted to cover-up the break in. His successor was Gerald Ford, who assumed the role of President after his Vice-Presidency during Richard Nixon’s administration. The Republicans suffered losses in both the Senate and the House. Later, a Democrat, Jimmy Carter, was elected president. Unsurprisingly,  Gerald Ford was not re-elected after choosing to pardon Richard Nixon of his crimes against the United States.

The impeachment   process plays perfectly into his populistic political pantomime.

So, why is this relevant? Well, by looking back at the Watergate Scandal, and Richard Nixon’s subsequent resignation, we can learn a lot about President Trump’s case and the state of US politics today.

In the case of Richard Nixon’s resignation, the reputation of the Republican Party was left considerably tarnished. This is very unlikely for President Trump; the impeachment process plays perfectly into his populistic political pantomime. His team of lawyers have insisted that he has done nothing wrong, repeatedly accusing the Democrats of ‘repeating themselves’.

President Trump’s approval ratings took a slight knock after his impeachment. Nothing a cheeky war crime won’t fix though! His approval fell by around 2% after impeachment, but since carrying out the order to assassinate Iran’s military General, Qasem Soleimani, his ratings soon bounced back to within 0.6%. At an approval rating of 43.1%, President Trump is within 3% of his peak popularity, when he was sworn into office in January 2017.

Despite this, Republicans had not initially disapproved of Richard Nixon during his would-be impeachment. It was not until the Supreme Court ruled that he had to release the tapes, which went on to prove that he had attempted to cover-up the Watergate scandal, that his approval plummeted. It appears that party loyalty is not a modern phenomenon.

People are always inclined to defend the leaders of their party of choice, and as such it is unlikely that President Trump will experience much of a hit to the loyalty of his fanbase. Mainly because his entire strategy is centered around criticising and blaming the Democrats.

At a time of such heightened polarity, this impeachment appears largely pointless for the Democrats. I am doubtful that the President will be removed from office and, as long as the Republicans maintain their unwavering whataboutery, their voter base will likely remain loyal. The States remain un-United, and in my opinion, Donald Trump is still a lying misogynistic war criminal.

Image credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

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