Troy professor explains Trump impeachment’s impact

Published 9:04 pm Thursday, December 19, 2019

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President Donald Trump became just the third President in U.S. history to be impeached Wednesday after the House of Representatives voted along party lines to rebuke the President.

Steven Taylor, dean of political science at Troy University, said that is not likely to matter in terms of Trump actually being removed form office though.

“The Senate is supposed to act as a jury while the president will be allowed to send attorneys to defend him,” Taylor said. “There should be a presentation of evidence, although how that will work out in this case is unclear. To remove the President requires two-thirds of senate removal from the office, so a substantial number of Republicans would have to be swayed.”

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Although the removal of Trump from office is unlikely, Taylor said impeachment has historically been a punishment in itself as a black mark on the presidency.

Although the process plays like a trial, Taylor said it is impossible for the process to avoid politicization.

“It’s a highly political process,” Taylor said. “The bottom line is, what qualifies for impeachment is whatever the House of Representatives thinks it means. What it boils down to is the Democrats are saying that the President should not leverage public resources or goods for private gain. That’s the essence of the entire argument. Republicans don’t believe that’s what he did. They either argue that’s not what he did or that what he did was acceptable. Just like a trial defense, you can argue reasonable doubt.”

Regardless of the highly contested process, Taylor said the impeachment proceedings have done little to sway the public in any direction.

“When you look at polls even since Trump was elected, nothing barely moves opinion either way. Polls show about 46 percent support Trump and about 52 percent are opposed and it’s been within about a digit ever since the election.”

Congress has already headed home for the holidays, leaving plans and a possible timeline for the impeachment trial in disarray.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted Thursday that Senate Republicans must provide details on witnesses and testimony before she would send over the charges for Trump’s trial. No deal, replied Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after meeting with his Senate Democratic counterpart.

“We remain at an impasse,” he said.

As darkness fell and lawmakers prepared to depart for the year, McConnell wondered from the Senate floor why in the world the Republicans should give ground to persuade House Democrats “to send us something we do not want.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.