Thursday, December 19, 2019
At 20:23 local time, Donald Trump made history – against his will: As the only third president in US history, he was charged with abuse of power in Congress with the declared aim of removing him from office prematurely.
This was followed by a second vote, the charge of congressional obstruction. Afterwards, Nancy Pelosi, the spokeswoman for the House of Representatives, struck the hammer with evident satisfaction. At the back someone shouted: "Yeah!"
But unlike before, the historic vote this time was strictly along the party lines: the Democrats who have the majority here were almost closed for it, the Republicans completely closed against it. Now there will be a trial in the Senate in early January, where the Republicans are in the majority. And they should acquit Trump.
In the video: History is made in Washington
James Quigg / The Daily Press / AP / DPA
Still, the impeachment charge alone is a flaw Trump will stick to forever, from newspaper headlines to history books.
The split procedure with a predetermined acquittal is also a sign of the times. This was shown by the more than ten-hour debate that preceded the vote: Every minute, Democrats and Republicans accused each other of treason, with trembling voices, bombastic rhetoric and bitter interjections.
Nobody gave in even an inch – against Trump, for Trump.
And nobody shone. The Democrats had swiftly prosecuted the indictment like a compulsory exercise, a purity test for their base. The Republicans had refused to cooperate and now want to go through the process quickly, a purity test for their base.
The parliamentary staging demonstrated how hopelessly the United States is torn apart: reality and fiction, truth and falsehood. How incompatible are these two Americans, who can no longer even agree on a common understanding of the law. How bleak the future looks when facts can no longer bring unity.
Democrats and Republicans seem to live in different worlds.
Some, the Democrats, described Trump as the greatest danger: he was corrupt, disregarded the constitution, "undermined national security" by requesting illegal campaign aid from Ukraine. "We have to act without delay," warned Jerry Nadler, chief of the judiciary committee, regarding the upcoming 2020 elections, whose "integrity" is under threat.
"It is clear," said Ms Linda Sánchez, "that the facts are undisputed."
House television via AP
Ten Hour Debate: US House Plenary
The others, the Republicans, described the Democrats as the greatest danger: they were planning a coup d'état and wanted to undo the will of 63 million Trump voters. One compared the impeachment to the attack on Pearl Harbor, another even to the crucifixion: "Pontius Pilate gave Jesus more rights."
"The facts are clear," said MP Jim Baird.
But whoever has followed the previous procedure knows, of course: What is clear is rather the difference between the facts of the Democrats, which are based on meticulous evidence, and the "facts" of the Republicans, who are political spin.
Only one thing was agreed: "Today is a sad day for the Americans."
Also because the confusion and loathing that impeachment triggers for many hardly disappears. Trump benefits: In the latest Gallup opinion poll, his popularity has even increased slightly – especially among independent voters who feel repelled by the hack.
Why in the end something else will be left behind – the truth.
The truth that Trump and his helpers are now even more creating an illusory reality in which lies are not only allowed but desired: they serve the political purpose and work best if they are repeated many times. Just take Trump's anger letter to Pelosi, who bristled with old falsehoods – and in which he boldly claimed the autocracy that the Democrats accused him of.
The truth that the Republicans unconditionally submitted to this apparent reality. No one dared to criticize the bizarre lie letter, let alone Trump's behavior in the Ukraine affair. "The world is better thanks to Donald Trump," said one MP during the debate.
The truth is that while the impeachment is still going on, new campaigns are thriving. Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani has just been to Ukraine to do exactly what the indictment is based on – uncover conspiracy theories. Justice Minister Bill Barr traveled around the world to discredit her own intelligence agencies' insights into Russia's electoral intervention, in time for the 2020 election.
Until then, the impeachment has been shattered. And Trump has a clear path.