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Nancy Pelosi delays Trump Senate impeachment trial to her credit — and at her peril – USA TODAY

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opinion

Anyone expecting senators to behave like jurors in President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is bound to be disappointed. In ordinary criminal trials, we disqualify jurors if they know the defendant, the witnesses, or even the latest news. If we applied those standards to senators, we’d have to disqualify the entire Senate.

Fortunately, it is possible for senators to be both political and fair. Today’s senators would do well to study the example set by their predecessors in trying Clinton. 

Clinton’s trial began on Jan. 7, 1999, before a politically divided Senate of 45 Democrats and 55 Republicans. Nevertheless, by a vote of 100 to 0, the Senate followed procedures outlined in its 1986 resolution entitled “Procedures and Guidelines for Impeachment Trials.” Trent Lott, the majority leader at the time and a fierce Republican partisan, did not stand in the way of this unanimous agreement. In the end, 10 Republicans voted to acquit President Clinton on one article, five on the other. 

Politics could displace law 

Among other matters, the 1986 rules provided that “the Senate shall have power to compel the attendance of witnesses.” When disagreement broke out about whether to call witnesses, the senators deliberated in private, and then publicly voted to depose witnesses. The senators heard videotaped deposition testimony for three days from witnesses. The trial lasted more than a month.

The 1986 rules are still in force. Yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declared his intent to ignore them and to run the trial according to whatever procedures the White House wants. Apparently, McConnell sees no conflict between swearing an oath to do justice according to law and then confessing that “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president’s position and our position.”

Trial of Donald J. Trump: As the impeachment process moves to the Senate, here’s how it will all work

McConnell flatly says there will be no witnesses, unless the president wants them. Sen. Lindsey Graham has been equally blunt. “I don’t need any witnesses,” he said, since “I’m not trying to hide the fact that I have disdain” for the whole process. 

Unless something changes, politics will displace law in any Trump impeachment trial. To her credit but also at her peril, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has departed from the example the House set in 1998, when members immediately walked over the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Instead, the speaker has announced that transmission of these articles will be delayed until the chambers can agree on fair trial procedures.

Some accuse the speaker of her own political maneuvering to deny, or at least to delay, the president’s right to answer his accusers. Others defend her as having no choice but to use whatever leverage she possesses to ensure that the Senate conducts a trial, and not a farce.

Precipice of a constitutional crisis

So far, Pelosi has said only that she will delay transmitting the impeachment articles, as opposed to saying she might never send them. However, the prospect of a brief delay may not be enough to bring the Senate leadership into bipartisan negotiations. Without such negotiation, we would face stalemate and a constitutional crisis.

If the speaker persists and refuses to deliver the impeachment articles to the Senate, some will say she is the one violating the Constitution. While the Constitution contains no explicit provisions concerning the time frame for transmitting articles of impeachment to the Senate, or even compelling delivery, you could argue that it implicitly assumes a Senate trial will follow impeachment in a timely manner. 

In ordinary circumstances, this argument might be persuasive. However, these are not ordinary times. Left unstopped, McConnell by his own words stands ready to violate the Constitution’s core commitment to fair trials under the rule of law. The Constitution does not require the speaker to sit back and watch the Senate disobey the Constitution. And McConnell cannot invoke the importance of holding a Senate trial while refusing to hold anything resembling an open trial.   

Trump impeachment twist: Pelosi reclaims the Constitution for liberals and today’s America

We can walk back from this constitutional precipice. If senators in the Clinton impeachment trial could put aside their partisan divides and unanimously agree on fair trial procedures, then today’s senators should be able to do the same. All that has to happen is for the majority leader to let each senator vote on the rules, free from threats of reprisal. Although it takes a two-thirds vote to convict the president, it takes only a simple majority to adopt rules of procedure. This means a moderate coalition could emerge, a prospect that McConnell will bend every rule to thwart.  

An early draft of the Constitution proposed holding impeachment trials before the Supreme Court. But Alexander Hamilton thought it would be a mistake to take all politics out of the impeachment trial. Instead, he counted on the Senate’s ability to distinguish between the petty politics of self-interest and the permanent political interests of the people in living under the rule of law. The very gravity of impeachment, Hamilton thought, would turn politicians, sometimes drunk on power, stone sober.

Before it is too late, we should all raise a glass to constitutional sobriety.

Jeffrey Abramson is the author of “We, the Jury: The Jury System and the Ideal of Democracy.” He teaches constitutional law at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Baghdad gripped by protests as political rivals vie for power – The Washington Post

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BAGHDAD — Rival protesters took to Iraq’s streets Friday as their leaders vied for political dominance, just 10 months after a U.S.-backed election that was meant to heal the country’s fractures left many more exposed.

The aftermath of those polls has forced years-long tensions to the surface. In a country where elites rule by consensus, rival Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni politicians have been unable to agree on key government appointments. The election’s biggest winner, powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, has withdrawn his parliamentarians from the process, sending his supporters instead to occupy the leafy grounds of the legislature.

He is now calling for early elections, which would be the second in less than a year.

As dusk approached Friday, Sadr’s supporters gathered in provinces across the country and outside the parliament to echo his demands. But they were not alone. Several miles away, near Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, thousands of foot soldiers for the cleric’s rivals — former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and leaders of armed groups linked to Iran — gathered too, protesting what they described as a “political coup” by Sadr.

By nightfall, a crowd of hundreds was building tents in the capital, and people said they were setting up for the long haul.

“We’ll stay as long as it takes,” said Ali Hassan, a 30-year-old government employee from Baghdad. “The people know our demands, and they know that they are legitimate.”

Iraq’s wildcard cleric upends politics as summer heat descends

While the politics were complicated, the core problem was simple, analysts said. Twenty years after the U.S.-led invasion, winners from the kleptocratic political system it ultimately installed are now fighting over who reaps its spoils.

Locked out of that system are millions of ordinary Iraqis who have seen little benefit from the nation’s immense oil wealth. Hospitals are crumbling, and the education system is among the worst in the region. For three days last week, as a heat wave pushed temperatures past 125 degrees, three southern provinces failed to even keep the lights on, as the extreme heat pushed an already shaky power grid to the breaking point.

Iraq broils in dangerous 120 degree heat as power grid shuts down

Iraq’s last elections took place several months early, as a response to mass protests that demanded the overthrow of the political system. The young and mostly Shiite demonstrators were met with brutal repression, and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was forced to step down after almost 600 people were killed.

In October, fresh polls left Sadr with the largest bloc in parliament, and Maliki with the second, as historically low voter turnout left powerful parties with large bases as the biggest winners. Many Iraqis viewed the polls as an exercise in reshuffling the political deck chairs, and said that none of the major factions represented them.

But the atmosphere was festive outside Baghdad’s parliament on Friday as men in black T-shirts streamed through the streets carrying photographs of Sadr and his father, a revered cleric killed by dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, to demand more elections, and the sidelining of all the “old faces” — apart from Sadr.

A tinny loudspeaker blasted music through the air as bands of protesters sang and swayed, others enjoyed free kebabs or large chunks of melon. “We’re here to dissolve the parliament and to stand with Sayeed Moqtada’s demands,” said Hassan al-Iraqi, a religious studies student in his 30s who said that he had made the five-hour journey from the northern city of Mosul.

Sadr derives his strength in part from millions of impoverished supporters who view him as a sacred figure of storied lineage, and as someone who has resisted occupation and injustice. For weeks, he has used his Twitter account to praise his supporters’ efforts on the streets, likening their efforts to a “revolution.”

The messages have been received with a mix of excitement and reverence, as bands of teenagers pass around cellphones to read his posts.

By nightfall Friday, politicians from the opposing bloc were tweeting statements in praise of their own supporters too.

Maliki called the rallies “massive” and peaceful.

“Today you have brought joy to the hearts of Iraqis,” wrote Qais al-Khazali, a Shiite cleric aligned with Maliki. “The martyr Muhandis is all happy when he sees his sons defending Iraq and the interest of the people and the state with courage and awareness,” he wrote, in reference to a powerful militia leader killed alongside Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a January 2020 drone strike ordered by President Donald Trump.

Experts point to that drone strike as a seminal moment in Iraq’s latest unraveling — both of the slain men were pivotal figures in maintaining unity among the country’s now divided Shiite factions.

In Baghdad’s city center, another group also gathered Friday as the heat ebbed and traffic snarled the streets. They were secular activists, and they had planned their own protest in a place etched in the annals of the American invasion: Firdoos Square, where U.S. troops once pulled down a statue of Saddam Hussein.

“This whole system was built on a mistake,” said Najad al-Iraqi, an activist, who said he had not voted in a single election since Saddam’s fall. “None of these parties have ever worked for us,” he said. “They’re all corrupt, every one of them.”

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Quebec Premier François Legault promises more affordable housing ahead of fall election campaign

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LAVAL, Que. — Quebec Premier François Legault is getting an early jump on the fall election campaign with a promise to build thousands of new social and affordable housing units if re-elected.

The leader of the Coalition Avenir Québec promised today to fund 11,700 new units in the next four years if his party wins a second term on Oct. 3.

He says that amount will bring the province about halfway to filling the estimated shortfall of social and affordable units over the next 10 years, which his government pegs at 23,500 units.

Legault says his party would also subsidize rent supplements for 7,200 housing units, for a total investment of $1.8 billion.

While Legault has yet to announce an official start date for the fall election campaign, the main party leaders have been criss-crossing the province for weeks to hold public appearances and name candidates.

Recent polls suggest Legault’s party has a commanding lead, with more than double the support of his nearest rival.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2022.

 

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Politics Briefing: Canadian researchers and scientists march for better compensation – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Scientists and researchers marched on Parliament Hill Thursday for a Support our Science rally, with the group calling for a living wage for early-career researchers.

The group is calling for a funding increase for grad students and post-doctoral scientists who are supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, an open letter details. The value of scholarships for graduate and postgraduate recipients has not changed since 2003, while living costs have risen steadily, the letter notes.

“You’re not able to really even focus on your studies because of so many financial concerns,” Sarah Laframboise, a biochemistry PhD student at the University of Ottawa, told CBC Ottawa Morning on Thursday.

A petition to the federal government is calling for a 48 per cent increase to graduate scholarships and post-doctoral fellowships – to match inflation since 2003. That petition has received more than 1,200 signatures, while the group’s open letter has been signed by around 7,100 people.

A physical copy of the letter – stretching more than 70 metres – was carried along the Rideau Canal toward Parliament Hill on Thursday.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written today by Marsha McLeod, who is filling in for by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter sign-up page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

INFLATION BILL CREATES POSSIBLE BUMPSWhen the United States Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act earlier this week, Canadian political and industry leaders were elated by the legislation’s climate provisions, but other major changes in the bill set the stage for a trade standoff between the two countries over digital sales taxes. Story here.

NON-EMERGENCY PARAMEDICS As a number of hospitals across Canada cut back the hours of operation of their emergency departments amid staff shortages, some veteran paramedics say an innovative form of paramedicine could help take the pressure off, specifically, through community paramedicine programs outside of hospitals. Story here.

EDITS ON SPEECH – A line attributing responsibility for abuses of children at residential schools – specifically, that it occurred “at the hands of the federal government” – was edited out of remarks prepared for Carolyn Bennett, who was the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations at the time. Story by The Canadian Press here.

HIGH UNIVERSITY REVENUES – From coast-to-coast, Canadian universities recorded record profits in the 2020-21 fiscal year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Story by the Toronto Star here.

AID SHIPMENT CANCELLED – A Canadian aid group said that a shipment of food, which they were forced to cancel because of a Canadian anti-terror law, could have fed around 1,800 children in Afghanistan. Story by CBC News here.

FIRES CONTINUE IN NEWFOUNDLAND – Newfoundland residents are preparing for the possibility they may have to evacuate their homes as two large forest fires continue to rage through the central parts of the province. Story here.

SENATOR WANTS TO END NDAs – A Manitoba senator wants all federal bodies to be prevented from using nondisclosure agreements in misconduct cases, following months of concern over Hockey Canada’s handling of a sexual-assault allegation. Story by the Winnipeg Free Press here.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.

FUNDING FOR SOMBRE MONUMENT – On Thursday, Betty Ross, an elder and member of the Assiniboia Residential School Legacy Group, along with Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller, announced more than $600,000 in funding to build a monument and gathering place to commemorate survivors of the Assiniboia Residential School in Winnipeg.

UNIFOR UNVEILS PROPOSAL – Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, released a proposal Thursday outlining its vision for “vehicle and parts manufacturing that transforms Canada into a global leader as the world transitions to electric vehicle production.”

THE DECIBEL

In today’s episode, chef and author Suzanne Barr teaches The Decibel how to make her famous Caribbean curry chicken and reflects on how the dish helped launch her cooking career. Episode here. It’s the fourth episode of The Decibel’s Food Week.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

The Prime Minister is on a two-week vacation in Costa Rica.

LEADERS

No schedules provided for party leaders.

OPINION

Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on the latest battleground for First Nations rights: “The next battleground is to the north and west of Lake Superior, on the traditional territories of Treaty 9, Treaty 3 and the Robinson-Superior Treaty of 1850. It is here, in an area many Indigenous people share, where the waters of Turtle Island split and either flow north to Hudson Bay or south to urban cities. It is also the spot where the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, or NWMO, wants to send truckloads of radioactive material to be buried 500 metres deep into the Canadian Shield.”

David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on the arrival of the ‘great resignation’ in Canada: “Canada has largely avoided this phenomenon, at least in terms of the broad labour market. The number of workers overall who have voluntarily left their jobs has been well below prepandemic levels through the past two years, and has been on the decline over the past three months. … But among the 55-plus population, the story is suddenly very different. It’s as if older workers, having stuck it out during the depths of the recession and the frantic, uncertain recovery, have decided that they’ve had enough.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on the hollow reassurances of Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones: “When asked whether the current health care situation in Ontario is unprecedented, Ms. Jones replied, “No, I’m sorry, it is not,” which is both incorrect and not the winning defence she thinks it is. (Don’t despair, good people of Ontario: our health care system has always been on the verge of collapse!) It is true that the province has faced ER shutdowns before, but it has never faced such a confluence of compounding crises: record-high waits for ward admissions, record-high health care sector vacancies, unprecedented lengths and numbers of “level zero” events where there are no paramedics available to answer emergency calls, and a massive backlog of diagnostic procedures and surgeries that have already put lives at risk and quality-of-life in peril.”

Max Fawcett (National Observer) on the recent U.S. tax bill, and how it should have Canada upping its climate change commitments: “It might finally be time to expect more here in Canada as well. After years of tiptoeing around the energy sector and its numerous allies in politics and the punditocracy, the federal government finally has the cover it needs to bring forward more ambitious policies. Those should include its long-overdue cap on oil and gas emissions and the proposed regulations on methane emissions, which are set to be published next year. And if the government was ever inclined to go easy on the oil and gas industry, recent comments from some of its most prominent (and well-paid) executives should make it think twice.”

Fae Johnstone (Ottawa Citizen) on how Canada must step up to protect LGBTQ2+ rights: “I see increasing attacks on efforts to make schools more inclusive for LGBTQ2+ students, rising incidence of hate crimes against LGBTQ2+ Canadians, and a more organized anti-LGBTQ2+ hate movement than ever before. Since 2015, I’ve lost most of my optimism. Early warning signs indicate Canada could be headed in the wrong direction. Provincially and federally, right-wing fringe parties have adopted anti-LGBTQ2+ rhetoric.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

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