Early Wednesday morning, senators approved rules for the presidential impeachment trial over Donald Trump's alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after a 13-hour long debate and the process was launched.
In accordance with the Senate resolution, each side got three days to deliver 24 hours of their trial arguments, while 11 amendments proposed by minority Democrats who sought to subpoena new witnesses were dismissed by the Republican-controlled Senate.
Donald Trump was impeached by the House Democrats on 18 December after a controversial inquiry led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff which divided the US Congress along partisan lines. Before sending two articles of impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi withheld them for almost 33 days, citing concerns about the fairness of the trial in the Senate, thus further aggravating the row between the Democrats and the Republicans.
'It's a Continuation From Russiagate'
"13 hours was the time frame that American President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev enjoyed during the Cuban Missile Crisis. 13 hours is also the time frame of this first day of President Trump’s impeachment by Democrats, but of course lacks the truth and drama which animated the Kennedy-Khrushchev issue," says Scott Bennett, an independent US political analyst.
Bennett notes that House impeachment managers Congressmen Jerold Nadler and Adam Schiff yet again linked the impeachment case to Russia, citing the "collusion narrative", although the results of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation discovered none. According to The Washington Times, Schiff addressed Russia and the election "hacking" issue at least 15 times during his opening statement.
"Nadler and Schiff… sought to impeach the President because of Trump’s desire to make Russia and the United States more friendly towards each other", he opines.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, an American economist who served as the United States assistant secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, echoes Bennett: "It's a continuation from Russiagate", he opines.
"All of this originated when Trump, during his campaign for president, stated that he was going to normalise relations with Russia", Dr Roberts says. "What goes with that statement threatened the budget and the power of the United States military security complex. That budget is massive. It's 1.5 billion dollars annually. And it has enormous power. So when Trump says - I'm going to normalise relations with Russia - he is saying, I'm going to take away your enemy that justifies your power. And so they went after him".
Michael Shannon, political commentator and Newsmax and Cagle Syndicate columnist, highlights that the American left had sought to get rid of Trump from day one of his presidency, citing Hillary Clinton's recent tweet which says: "to be serious, the number one priority for our country and the world is retiring Trump".
"It's the number one priority for Hillary Clinton and the Left, who have been trying to nullify the election since Trump took off as well," Shannon stresses. "In fact, since he was announced the winner, it is not the number one priority for the majority of the American people and certainly not for the people who elected Trump. They are, for the most part, fairly happy with his performance."
Senate is Unlikely to Convict Trump
However, the chances of the US Senate convicting Trump are close to zero, according to Dr. Roberts.
"There's really no basis for the charges", the former Reagan administration official emphasises. "Plus, the impeachment from the House is entirely partisan. It's done entirely by the Democrats without the support of the Republicans. And in the Senate, the Republicans are in control... So unless members of the Republican Senate can be bribed or threatened in some way - it doesn't seem possible for there to be a conviction of President Trump."
According to him, the recent impeachment process shows a "deterioration in the integrity of the political system". The former US official underscores that US presidents who'd done really criminal and dangerous things "were never charged", citing George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama's violations of Constitution as well as military operations based on false pretexts.
"Legally, the charges [against Trump] have no merit," he stresses. "And you can see that further in the effort of the House Democrats to turn the Senate… [into] a continuation of a soap opera in which they can make more charges against Trump and keep this thing going as long as they can in the hope that the public hears so much of it over such a long period of time that some of it will stick drop and he would lose the reelection in November".
Trump Should Make His Case to the American People
Although Trump's conviction is not on the table, the question is whether the US president is "going to be able to make his case to the American people that the entire impeachment process was a show trial," according to Michael Shannon.
"[Trump] wanted to bring people like a whistleblower who absolutely should have to testify. But Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate… obviously wants… to get this out of the way without allowing Trump to make his case to the people. And I think that's a big mistake," Shannon opines.
Previously, Senate Majority Leader McConnell signalled that he opted for a quick trial rejecting new witness testimonies in the Trump impeachment trial.
However, some American conservatives believe that it was necessary to bring both the impeachment whistleblower and Hunter Biden, a son of former Vice President and present presidential candidate Joseph Biden, to the Senate. The impeachment process turned the spotlight on the Bidens' controversial linkage to Ukrainian energy giant Burisma, which was discussed by Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky during a phone conversation earlier last year. The phone call was subsequently used by the Democrats to claim that the US president sought Ukraine's assistance to disrupt his political rival's campaign.
According to Shannon, if the aforementioned facts and evidence were considered in the Senate, it would really help Trump's 2020 re-election bid.
"But as I said earlier, I don't think he'll be allowed to do that by Mitch McConnell… And that's just a big problem", the columnist concludes.