Trump survives impeachment: US president cleared of both charges

Post Reports


That all of this is done what happens now for the trump presidency. I mean for the rest of his term. How're you expecting it to be different than and it might have been well in a way? This is like a turbo charge for president trump because he survived this gauntlet this impeachment proceeding without without having to be removed from office. And therefore he's waking up feeling emboldened and empowered and feels a conviction that everything he does is right. He is at the strongest point politically today that he's been in some time. The Gallup poll has his approval rating at forty percent which is sending shivers through the Spines of Democrats Crafts Around the country there are good feelings in the country about the economy which continues to home along to report to you tonight that our economy is the best I it has ever been. He had a pretty powerful economic message in a state of the Union. Even though a lot of it was exaggerated and he made claims that are not true. Jobs are booming. Income Poverty is plummeting. Crime is falling confidences surging. It was a selling argument. It for reelection and our country is thriving and highly respected again and so we can expect I think the president into continue to to sound teams into seek retaliation against all of those. He felt have wronged him in. It's impeachment process with this acquittal. How is that likely to change the office of the Presidency broadly? It's a good question because the evidence about trump's activity in Ukraine is. There's no dispute dispute about what he did. The evidence is clear the testimony was clear. Trump himself has admitted on camera that he wanted the Ukrainian government to do an investigation into his political political opponent and in fact he called on the Chinese government to do the same so what he did is clear what happened is the Republicans in the Senate made a political calculation about out not removing him from office for it that what he did doesn't amount to an impeachable offense and I spent some time in the last days interviewing historians and they said this is a major watershed moment in our nation's history because the way the founders set up our government setup. Our Constitution was to punish and remove presidents. Who who do exactly what? Donald Trump has been proven to have done with Ukraine. This is a system of checks and balances and what's happened is the legislative branch under Republican. Look in control in the Senate is no longer holding the president accountable they're becoming an instrument to propel his power and perpetuate his power and that's concerning to historians it's concerning to legal experts and it certainly would set a precedent. I would imagine for future presidents who will say look if trump got away with this I can get away with it too and it is just an expansion of that sort of executive power which is troubling to those who study the framers and the Constitution. Do you think I mean with a different president. You know ten years twenty years from now our future executive branches likely to think back to this moment and say I can do this. It's okay I'm not going to get in trouble. You know. They they could and we may not even have to look to future presidents for that. President trump has another ten months seven months in office. He may have another four years beyond that and there's no telling what he might try to do going forward because he's escaped accountability this time in the Russia investigation. You know the Muller Team documented did all of these examples for really proven examples where the president sought to obstruct justice but did not charge him or indict him because he's a sitting president narrow justice assists department guidelines about that. Well the very next day after Robert Mueller testified in Congress about this trump picked up the phone and called the Ukrainian president asking for the favor the political favors so he the conclusion he drew from the Muller Investigation and his lack of any legal punishment in that regard was that he can get away with with what he wants to do. He's the president if he does it so be it and the Republicans in on Capitol Hill or are there to support and protect him. So can you talk us through. How the president's President's own lawyers argued that the Senate basically doesn't have the power to to check the president one of the most striking moments in the president's defense came when one of his lawyers? Alan Dershowitz a noted criminal lawyer you've seen him on. TV for years Came to the floor of the Senate and advanced an argument that a lot of legal experts that said was dubious every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest. And mostly right your elections in the public interest. He said if the president does something that will help his reelection therefore is in the best interest of the country and if if a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest. He cannot be held or rather be impeached for for that action that cannot be the kind of quid pro. Quo that results in impeachment. And so that's a blanket. Excuse use for the president to do what he did with Ukraine but obviously anything else that the president deems to be in the interest of his reelection that is an argument that Dershowitz had to kind of walk back a little bit In in some comments he made the next day and he got a lot of heat from legal scholars who said that's just a completely baloney argument argument with no constitutional grounding but it is indicative. I think of how President Trump himself views his power and views his authority as the president and commander-in-chief founder and chief. Did we see a lot of senators latching onto that argument. A few did Actually the Republican senators of course but a few parroted the Dershowitz line came as a way of defending the president and saying basically he's president he can do whatever he wants for his reelection because getting him reelected is in the best interest of our country. What about the way that? The impeachment trial played out in the Senate. The fact that there were no new documents that there were no witnesses is that likely also to set. Its own kind of precedent for or the way that impeachment is handled in the future. Certainly we've only had an impeachment trial three times in our history and so there's not really a blueprint door protocol. Offer how to go about doing this. And and the Senate leaders along with the chief justice of the Supreme Court to kind of change and adapt the rules as they went along to figure out how this would work mark and the Democrats say this was a complete sham. Trial that Mitch. McConnell designed it from the get-go to move quickly to get to a very fast acquittal to turn the page to save trump into move on with the legislative business not to delve into the details. Not To really scrutinize the evidence. The most surprising thing I think watching the Sahlin fold the last few weeks that John Bolton came forward publicly or at least in the manuscript of his book which leaked out through the media with new information right. He's a first first hand witness to what the president wanted done and Ukraine. He offered to testify before the Senate or at least indicated he would if if asked. Here's somebody who could have come forward to provide a new to account that would have provided new evidence to this case and there was no interest among the Republican majority in the Senate to hear what he had to say. I don't believe the testimony is necessary. The house else managers have a burden of proof a burden of proof to prove their case they had fallen woefully short. We now have allegations from Mr Bolton. I think they would have more credibility if the allegations came from someone else. There is no new information in my opinion based on what John Bolton has known but today in an effort to generate interest in a book have selectively released. Information that that to me doesn't go beyond what we've seen in the seventeen witnesses who've already testify only two. Republican senators voted to allow witnesses. Mitt Romney and and Susan Collins of Maine came to what extent is the Senate giving up the power that they have to oversee the president of provide any kind of check on the president. Give us a sense of the power that's been given up with the smooth you know they've they've been giving up power to this president for three years now in in part because Republicans threat the party live in fear of him. He has such an intensity of support within the Republican base and approval rating among Republicans of eighty to ninety percent and he follows these things very closely and vows to retaliate and shows that he can punish people if they betray him across him. Just ask former Senator Jeff Flake or former senator Bob corker. So there's that fear factor in the Senate and and what they've done to adapt to that is is not to stand up to him not to ever say he's wrong and in turn. They're getting some of their agenda through right. They're getting tax cuts passed. They're getting a lot of conservative. Justices installed hold onto the federal judiciary. They feel like Mitch. McConnell certainly feels like this is an opportunity to advance the conservative agenda but they just need to placate eight trump and played a trump and keep him calm but in so doing they're giving up their power of accountability. And it's certainly not the way that the framers and the founders imagined Dr our system of government working in Democracy Phil Rocker is the White House. Bureau chief for the Post. His new book written with Carol Lennox is called a very stateful genius. Donald J trump's testing of America. It's out in stores now.

Coming up next