Andrew Buncombe, The Independent
Challenge yourself, if you dare. It has only been 12 months since we went through all of this with Donald Trump the first time. But can you remember the details?
Yes, it was something about Ukraine and Joe Biden, and Joe Biden’s son, and military aid.
But do you remember the name of the president of that eastern European nation, (Volodymyr Zelensky) the witnesses who lined up to give evidence in committee (Alexander Vindman and Gordon Sondland) or how many Republicans in the Senate eventually voted to convict? (Just one, Mitt Romney.)
It is true that a lot has happened in the meantime.
There has been a pandemic that in the US has killed more than 460,000 citizens. Millions have lost their jobs. There has been an election, and the swearing-in of a new president.
Yet the events of that first impeachment, even though it was the nation’s third such prosecution of a president for committing “high crimes and misdemeanors”, feel decidedly murky.
By contrast, few who watched Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin open the party’s case against Trump on Tuesday, will forget what they saw, or the language that was used.
The package of video footage that interspersed Trump’s pugilistic rhetoric before a crowd of supporters, with the scenes of violence that befell the US Capitol, was shocking on several fronts.
One was for the fact that five people were killed that day, as hundreds of Trump’s supporters marched down the National Mall, and then broke past barricades and into the legislature.
Another was the fact that the building in which the senators were being shown the footage was just yards from where the violence had erupted little more than a month earlier. Hundreds of police and national guard are required to remain on duty, as the hearing proceeds, fearful of more.
“You ask what a high crime and misdemeanor is under our constitution,” said Raskin, after the video package had been played. “That’s a high crime and misdemeanor.”
Also shocking is the fact that the nation had been forewarned, by no less an authority than Trump himself. How many times did he or his spokesperson, in the months before the election, refuse to accept the results regardless of who was the victor?
How many times did Trump tell his supporters there was no way he could lose to Biden unless the election was “rigged”?
What were his supporters to believe when he spoke from the Oval Office in the early hours of November 4, and claimed a victory that was not his to claim? “We were getting ready to win this election - frankly we did win this election. So our goal now is to ensure the integrity for the good of this nation. This is a very big moment. This is a major fraud on our nation,” he said.
“We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we will be going to the US Supreme Court, we want all voting to stop.”
Some people may have shrugged their shoulders over Trump’s attempt to bully the president of Ukraine. Some may have decided this is what happens in the course of being a national leader. Don’t all presidents do this sort of thing?
One suspects fewer feel this way about the storming of the Capitol.
Trump’s lawyers argued he cannot be tried because he is no longer president. But he could have been tried while he was still in office, had Mitch McConnell not blocked it from taking place.
And no matter what happens to Trump, either this week or in 12 months from now, it is unlikely people will forget what happened on January 6, after a defeated leader told his supporters to “fight like hell”.
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