For all Trump’s talk of witch hunts and show trials, impeachment proceedings against him in the US Congress have turned into one big noshow trial.
No new evidence allowed. No witnesses permitted. No documents released.
The suggestion that if they were to hear witnesses it would have to be behind closed doors, for fear of what the American public might otherwise learn, reeks of the kind of behaviour expected in Putin’s Russia or Saudi Arabia rather than the USA’s supposed beacon of democracy.
The impeachment trial has become a travesty. All parties know Trump is guilty as sin, but also expect him to be acquitted because the Republican majority in the Senate won’t convict. It’s like a white supremacist being tried for the murder of a civil rights worker and finding more than half the jury are members are in the Ku Klux Klan. Such an analogy isn’t too far from the truth in the current climate.
Yet additional evidence has leaked from the cesspit of criminality and corruption that has hallmarked Trump rule.
Evidence from the administration’s own accountability office says that Trump’s decision to withhold funds to Ukraine violated the law. The Ukrainians themselves have opened up an investigation into the illegal surveillance of the former US ambassador there, Marie Yovanovitch, believed to have been carried out by goons in the employ of Trump’s deranged lawyer, Rudy Guiliani.
One such hireling, Lev Parnas, has continued to spill the beans in the hope of a lighter sentence on fraud charges. His latest claim is that Trump knew exactly what was going on regarding bullying tactics to make Ukraine declare the opening of investigation into baseless allegations against Joe Biden and his son and a discredited conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine not Russia which interfered in the 2016 election.
Trump, of course, doesn’t know who Parnas is, despite boasting he has “one of the greatest memories of all times.” There are plenty of photos of Parnas with Trump and his odious offspring to prove otherwise, and audiotape of a conversation between them, but “I never knew him” is one of the standard responses whenever Trump minions get caught out.
Another argument goes that anything Parnas says can’t be trusted because he’s a crook and a liar — the assumption is made that anyone in Trump’s of close associates fits that description!
“I didn’t know him all that well” is applied to jailbirds Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, shortly to be joined in a couple of weeks by Roger Stone. Pardons for a least two of these reprobates will probably be among Trump’s first acts should he get re-elected.
What is the prospect of Trump winning in November? What effect will his extremely unlikely impeachment have on that?
Senators trying Trump have all sworn an oath of impartiality, but nobody expects any of them to abide by it. A recent CNN poll found 51% wanting Trump impeached and removed from office, with 45% against. Whether these numbers shift significantly as the trial progresses or there’s an outcry against blatant Republican rigging attempts remains to be seen.
Despite an increase in the anti-Trump vote, Trump could still win in November. The reactionary bias of the 18th century US constitution — drawn up at the time for the benefit of the southern slave owning class — is a major roadblock to radical social change now.
In his native New York 80% of the population hate Trump’s guts (hence his recent change of residency to Florida), yet votes piling up in the big cities on the East and West coasts will count for little. The Democrats may double the three million lead Clinton got in the popular vote in 2016, but the swing states of middle America are the vital battlegrounds. They are won or lost on very narrow margins. The Democrat have yet to decide who they’ll put up against Trump, but all the likely candidates are clocking up similar poor poll ratings to the ones Trump presently enjoys.
It is difficult to see how Biden — the “safe” choice — will energise the largest section of the American electorate, namely the 45% of the adult population who didn’t turn out to vote last time. Biden will have a predictably uninspiring political programme which doesn’t provide a lot of confidence for those wanting Trump out of White House.
Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders will doubtless face hysterical “red scare” tactics from the right, but with a focus on promoting universal health care policies stand a better chance of energising voters.
Hostility to socialist ideas in America is still formidable, but is weaker now than any other time since 1945. Notwithstanding, these are dangerous times given the way the Trump Presidency has emboldened the far right.