The ‘impeachment’ against Donald Trump for his alleged incitement to the assault on the United States Congress, in which five people died, on January 6, started this Tuesday in the most effective way possible: with videos taken from mobile phones by the insurgents.
Nothing better for the era of TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Mobile videos intertwined with statements on television by Republican leaders and with ‘tweets’ from Donald Trump. The president who discovered the power of social networks and exploited them until they vetoed him – precisely, as a result of the assault on the Capitol – now sees his rivals take over the online battlefield.
That’s the only thing that counts. The ‘impeachment’ will not succeed because the vast majority of Republicans will vote against it. Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, wants the process to take as little time as possible for Congress to pass his new economic stimulus. It is political theater. This time, ‘online’. The consequence is that this procedure, theoretically the highest example of institutional responsibility of the president of the United States, runs the risk of being, in the eyes of public opinion, an exercise in political marketing. As Harvard constitutional expert Lawrence Tribe declared to ELMUNDO.es on Tuesday, “the concept of ‘impeachment’ is in danger of being reduced to something irrelevant.
So, in an ‘impeachment’ for telephone screens, the Democratic prosecution has presented ten minutes of videos taken by the assailants themselves in which the tremendous violence of the assailants, their insults, and their attacks on the police is clear, and the words of the former president at the meeting with Congress that preceded the attack. The video begins with the closing sentence of the Trump rally. “We are going to go down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, and we are going to give the Republicans – the weak Republicans because those who are strong don’t need our help – pride. and the audacity they need to retake our country.
Next, the prosecution has shown the recordings made with the mobiles by the assailants themselves. Insults of all kinds to the forces of order. Attacks on the police. The slogans of “If there is no Trump, there is no peace!”, Chanted by the attackers. And, in an especially dramatic moment, as the mob is smashing through a closed door to gain access to a section of the building, the recording of a policeman’s hand with a pistol opening fire and killing on the spot the assailant Ashli Babbit the only person who died by firearm in the attack.
All this, accompanied by the speech of the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, in the speaker’s box, affirming that “there is nothing that proves a large-scale illegal act that could have changed the outcome of the elections.” Later, the images of the congressmen being evacuated, and of the protesters shouting “Pence traitor!”, About the vice president with Trump, Mike Pence, who presided over the session of Congress that day in which the Joe Biden’s victory in the November 3 election.
“If this is not an offense that deserves an ‘impeachment’, there is nothing that is”, declared after concluding the video the head of the indictment, the Democratic representative for Maryland Jamie Raskin. His thesis is that Trump incited the revolt intending to remain in power even though he had lost the November 3 elections, the recounts he had requested had confirmed that result indisputably, and even his attorney general – a charge equivalent to that of Minister of Justice in Spain – had ratified the absence of fraud.
That is the key to the Democratic argument. The defense of Trump is different. On the one hand, it maintains that the president’s statements in the weeks leading up to the assault were simply an exercise of his right to freedom of expression and not an incitement to violence. It is something that the Democrats attacked by showing a ‘tweet’ from the president, posted three hours after the revolt began, in which Trump affirms that “these are things that happen when a sacred electoral victory in which I have devastated is stolen from great patriots who have been treated very badly and very unfairly for a long time.
Trump’s second defense is to fuel conspiracy theories that insist there was voter fraud. Finally, Republican senators will insist that the ‘impeachment’ is unconstitutional, since it is a procedure that was created to remove high-ranking officials, and Trump is no longer so. In reality, the ‘impeachment’ is applied by the acts committed in the exercise of the position, as it was already evident in 1872, when the former Secretary of War, William Belknap, was subjected to this process for the bribes he had committed when he had been in government.
This Tuesday, the 50 Democrats and 6 of the 50 Republicans in the Senate voted in favor of the constitutionality of the impeachment, with which it continues. That figure also gives an idea of the possible outcome of the process, since it indicates that, at most, 56 senators will vote in favor of declaring Trump guilty, eleven fewer than necessary for the former president to be convicted.