Aljazeera: What are US articles of impeachment, and what happens next?

House Speaker Pelosi says she has instructed the House Judiciary panel to draft articles of impeachment against Trump.

Trump attends the NATO leaders summit in Watford, UK [File: Toby Melville/Reuters]

Trump attends the NATO leaders summit in Watford, UK

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday asked the House Judiciary Committee to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump over his effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

The announcement came after weeks of public hearings in the House Intelligence Committee, a 300-page report and divisive rhetoric highlighting the political divide that has come to define the impeachment process.

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With Democrats moving forward with impeachment charges, here’s a quick guide to how impeachment works, what happens next.

1. What is impeachment?

The founders of the United States included impeachment in the US Constitution as an option for removal of presidents by Congress.

They agreed that presidents could be removed if found guilty by Congress of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.

2. What are articles of impeachment?

The sole authority under the Constitution to bring articles of impeachment is vested in the House of Representatives where proceedings can begin in the Judiciary Committee. If the House approves articles of impeachment, or formal charges, he or she would then be subject to trial in the US Senate.

In the context of Trump, Democrats first pursued a two-month inquiry, led by the House Intelligence Committee, which submitted a 300-page report about its findings earlier this week.

Democrats have accused Trump of abusing his power of office.

“The facts are uncontested,” Pelosi said on Thursday. “The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and (a) critical Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.”

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi makes a statement at the Capitol in Washington

The inquiry is centred on a July phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 presidential frontrunner, and his son Hunter, who served on a board of a Ukrainian gas company. Trump also wanted an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 elections.

At the time of the call, the Trump administration was withholding nearly $400m in military aid from Ukraine.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, calling the impeachment inquiry a hoax.

It’s unclear what articles of impeachment will be presented, but Pelosi’s comments on Tuesday offered a framework for what they may look like. They could also include obstruction of Congress and Justice, Democrats have said. The White House has stonewalled requests from the House for testimony and documents.

3. What happens next?

The House Judiciary Committee has announced it will hold a hearing on Monday that will include presentations on the evidence form the impeachment inquiry.

It’s unclear how long the process will take, but many expect the full House to vote by the end of the year on formal impeachment charges. Impeachment in the 435-member House must be approved with a simple majority.

Before then, however, the House Judiciary Committee will draw up and vote on articles of impeachment.

If the House votes to impeach, the matter moves to the Senate, where a trial is held. The chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the trial.

A two-thirds majority vote is required in the 100-member Senate to convict and remove a president from office.

The Senate is made up of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democrats. At this point, no Republicans have indicated they will vote against the president should a trial take place.

4. Who would become president if Trump was removed?

A Senate conviction that removed Trump from office would automatically elevate Vice President Mike Pence to become president, completing Trump’s term, which ends on January 20, 2021.

 

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

US attorney general faces contempt vote over Mueller report

Attorney General William BarrCongressional Democrats will vote on whether Attorney General William Barr will be held in contempt

Democrats in the US House of Representatives have decided to launch contempt proceedings against Attorney General William Barr.

They took action after he failed to comply with a House Judiciary Committee subpoena to submit an unredacted version of the Mueller report.

The Department of Justice had previously called the request “premature and unnecessary”.

The Democratic-led committee said the vote would be held on Wednesday.

The attorney general, who was appointed by the president, also missed a deadline last week to release an uncensored version of the report.

What did committee members say?

Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement on Monday: “Congress must see the full report and underlying evidence to determine how to best move forward with oversight, legislation, and other constitutional responsibilities.

“The Attorney General’s failure to comply with our subpoena, after extensive accommodation efforts, leaves us no choice but to initiate contempt proceedings.”

But Doug Collins, the top Republican on the committee, dismissed the Democratic move as “illogical and disingenuous”.

“Democrats have launched a proxy war smearing the attorney general when their anger actually lies with the president and the special counsel,” the Georgia congressman said.

Six committees in the Democratic-controlled House are demanding the release of the full Mueller report as part of ongoing investigations into US President Donald Trump.

What does a contempt vote mean?

A contempt vote alone may serve merely as a symbolic rebuke of the attorney general.

For Mr Barr to actually face criminal charges, the entire House – including Republicans – would first have to approve it.

Such a move against an attorney general is not unprecedented, however.

Eric Holder, who served under President Barack Obama, was held in contempt by the then-Republican-controlled House for a botched attempt to track illegal guns.

Mr Holder became the first sitting attorney general held in contempt of Congress after he failed to hand over files related to the operation.

But as expected, the justice department did not pursue charges against Mr Holder.

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters at the White HousePresident Trump has insisted the Mueller Report absolves him of any wrong-doing in his election campaign

What has President Trump said?

Mr Trump said on Twitter on Sunday that the special counsel must not testify to lawmakers, as Democrats desire.

The Republican president had previously said he would not block Mr Mueller from giving evidence to Congress, and leave a final decision to Mr Barr.

The 448-page Mueller report found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election campaign, but did not reach a conclusion on obstruction.

Democrats hope Mr Mueller’s testimony may offer insights into parts of the report currently shrouded by redactions.

“Why would the Democrats in Congress now need Robert Mueller to testify,” Mr Trump tweeted on Sunday.

“There was no crime, except on the other side (incredibly not covered in the report), and no collusion.”

It emerged last week that Mr Mueller had written Mr Barr and expressed frustration that the attorney general’s summary did not capture the full context of the special counsel’s findings.

Tension between Mr Barr and congressional Democrats is already high.

Earlier this month, the attorney general refused to testify to the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee after Democrats insisted he be questioned by a staff lawyer. He did, however, testify last week for five hours to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senior Democrats have called on him to resign, accusing him of lying, while Republicans have argued that Mr Barr is being targeted for political gain.

Pelosi blocks Trump’s annual address until US gov’t shutdown ends!

The ongoing partial government shutdown has lasted 33 days and is the longest of its type in American history.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has blocked Trump's annual SOTO speech for time being [File: Yuri Gripas/Reuters]

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has blocked Trump’s annual SOTO speech for time being [File: Yuri Gripas/Reuters]

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday informed President Donald Trumpthat he would not be allowed to deliver an annual State of the Union address in the House chamber until a partial government shutdown ended.

In a letter to Trump, Pelosi said: “I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorising the president’s State of the Union address in the House chamber until government has opened.”

Passage of such a resolution is required before the president can speak in the House.

The speech had been set for January 29.

Trump had said earlier on Wednesday he planned to deliver the State of the Union address in the House chamber as scheduled on January 29, rejecting Pelosi’s request that he delay it.

In an escalation of rhetoric that essentially dared Pelosi to uninvite him, Trump told her in a letter, which the White House released earlier on Wednesday, that he was “looking forward” to giving the speech, an annual event in American politics.

“It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!” Trump wrote.

Longest shutdown in history

US gov’t shutdown: How long? Who is affected? Why did it begin?

The ongoing partial government shutdown, the longest of its type in US history, came into effect over Trump’s demand for billions of dollars in funding to erect a wall on the US-Mexico border.

Entering into its 33rd day on Wednesday, furloughed federal employees, unions and others have expressed anger over being forced to work without pay or not being permitted to work at all.

On Saturday, Trump offered to temporarily extend protections for young undocumented individuals brought to the country as children, as well as that of Temporary Protection Status holders in exchange for border wall funding.

Before the plan is officially announced, Democrats decried it as “unacceptable” and “inadequate”, calling it “a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives”.

Conducted between January 18 and 22, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found that only seven percent of voters support “dedicating funding to a border wall if it was the only way to end the government shutdown”.

Opinion: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be the first female US president!

After eight years of Donald Trump, Americans will certainly be ready for some ‘radical’ change.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won a House of Representatives seat in the 2018 midterm elections in the US [Reuters/Carlos Barria]
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won a House of Representatives seat in the 2018 midterm elections in the US [Reuters/Carlos Barria]

Donald Trump’s shocking victory in the 2016 presidential race caused liberals across the United States to question whether the country was indeed ready for a woman president. Since then, there has been much speculation about various female politicians and celebrities running for office, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Kamala Harris, Oprah, Michelle Obama, and others. There have even been rumours that Hillary Clinton might run again.

I, however, don’t see any of these women making it to the White House. I think the first female president of the US will be New York RepresentativeAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez (or AOC as she has come to be known). It may take her another six years to get there, but the youngest woman elected to the US Congress will win the presidency. Here is how and why.

Alexandria is not Hillary

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the 2016 election but lost key swing states and, under our complicated and arguably unfair Electoral College system, this meant losing the presidency.

But the biggest political upset in recent US history cannot simply be blamed on the unfairness of the electoral system, under which countless Democrats managed to defeat opponents stronger, and more experienced, than Donald Trump.

Clinton lost the election because she failed to convince working-class voters that she would be able to understand and address their growing grievances. While she started her journey as a young, educated, idealistic feminist believing in social justice and equality, over the course of her life in the political limelight, she (and her husband) madefortune of over $50m, including $21m in speaking fees she was paid by Wall Street businesses and other interest groups. She gradually became an unrelatable poster-child of corporate America’s greed. This, combined with the proliferation of fake news and misinformation provided by Trump’s campaign were the proverbial “nails in the coffin” for her presidential bid.

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Where does the future of the American left lie?

Unlike Clinton and most politicians for that matter,Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rejected donations from corporate political action committees, or PACs. She didn’t take millions from Wall Street and then preach to blue-collar Americans that she understood their struggles. This helped her not to be perceived as a member of the Washington establishment like Clinton and her peers Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, for example.

Moreover, Clinton just offered middle-of-the-road policies that simply promised more of the same. By contrast, Ocasio-Cortez, as an out and proud democratic socialist, advocated for federally guaranteed jobs and “Medicare-For-All,” calledfor tuition-free public colleges and the dismantling of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. With this, AOC made it clear that she offers a different kind of politics that is unadulterated by corporate and lobbyist connections. This is, in fact, what helped her defeat a 20-year incumbent and the fourth-ranking House Democrat, Joe Crowley, in the Democratic race for New York’s 14th Congressional District.

After she was sworn into Congress, she continued talking about progressive policies, calling for a return to John F Kennedy’s 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans and supporting a “Green New Deal”, a proposed economic programme addressing climate change and inequality. If Ocasio-Cortez continues down this path and successfully rejects cooptation by PACs, working-class Americans across party lines would undoubtedly be moved to vote for her.

AOC is also a master of grassroots organising and, while her actions convey that she is in touch with the challenges ordinary Americans face, her greatest asset may be her ability to connect with them in a way that feels genuine and not contrived. Millennials, for example, find AOC more relatable than any other potential presidential candidate. With her 2.37 million Twitter followers and growing, she is a skilled social media user who knows how to connect and communicate with the younger generation and will certainly be able to secure their vote. And in the coming decade, it increasingly seems that it will be the millennials who will become the most important voting bloc within the US electorate.

And finally, AOC was also able to capture the attention of the press and has already shown much skill in fending off public attacks. Even before she was sworn into office on January 3, conservatives had already launched a smear campaign against her, which is indicative of how much she scares them.

First, there was noise about the house she grew up in in a New York suburb; then much discussion about designer clothes she wore during a 2018 photo shoot. Just after her swearing-in, the right-wing news site The Daily Caller posted a fake picture of her in a bathtub. And then the conservative media tried to troll her with video on the internet of her dancing in her college days. But this turned out to be a media boost for the freshman Congresswoman and she trolled them right back by making a wildly popular video of herself dancing into her Congress office.

With the election of Trump and AOC’s rise to stardom, one thing has become undoubtedly clear: US voters are desperate for new politics and fresh faces who can offer real change. And with her charisma, presence and political acumen, Ocasio-Cortez is able to tap into these sentiments. To put it in Trump’s words, Ocasio-Cortez is a “winner”, she is “winning”.

Her popularity in the press parallels Trump’s during his presidential bid in 2016 when he proved true the cliché “any press is good press”. Yes, it was thanks to the media’s obsession with him, both on the right and the left, that he remained a constant figure in the public eye, which ultimately paved the way for the unimaginable to happen – his win over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

The same is already proving true for AOC. She is the Democrat that Republicans (and even some Democratslove to hate, and she will be all the better for it.

AOC will run in 2024 after eight years of Trump

Alexandria is unlikely to run in 2020 and challenge Trump because she will not meet the constitutional requirement of being 35 by then. 

The Democratic Party is likely to nominate someone like former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who will stick to the traditional Democratic centre-left talking points: “compromise, compromise, compromise”. If that happens, Trump will certainly bully him into a corner on the campaign trail and during the debates and will go on to win the 2020 presidential election, to the despair and shame of millions of Americans. 

Another Trump presidency will certainly drag the country into deeper political, social and economic crises and will convince disillusioned voters once and for all that the Donald was never the man who could or even wanted to “drain the swamp”. It could finally be the wake-up call for millions of Americans to realise that they need to try something drastically different – something “radical”. That something, as Ocasio-Cortez has repeatedly pointed out, could be what has already been done successfully in Scandinavian countries, for example. 

At the same time, these five years will also give AOC the time to understand how Washington works, build her political profile and prove herself as a house representative. She will also quietly make more allies in the Democratic Party and after her two-year-term as congresswoman is over, she may choose to move up the political ladder by running for office as a senator for her home state of New York, in order to broaden her political experience before a run for president in 2024.

Yes, it will take all of that for Ocasio-Cortez to win the 2024 Democratic nomination. I would even venture to predict that she will run on a ticket with a female vice-presidential candidate, perhaps Senator Kamala Harris, if the forces that are the Democratic National Committee (DNC) permit such a scandal. Don’t forget how the DNC buried Senator Bernie Sanders in his run for the nomination in 2016. But after eight years of Trumpism, I believe that America will make sure that doesn’t happen again to AOC.

But apart from resistance within the DNC, perhaps the greatest challenge Ocasio-Cortez will face along the way to 2024 is remaining true to herself and her principles and withstanding the ineluctable and incessant weathering of the lobbyists who effectively run Congress behind the scenes. In her 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper, she admitted she is worried about how Washington would change her because it inevitably changes everyone.

If she manages to “survive” Washington and emerge stronger, the 2024 Democratic nomination for president definitely has “Ocasio-Cortez” written all over it. I, for one, will definitely vote for her.

Editor’s note: The article has been updated to clarify that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez cannot run in the 2020 presidential race because of her age.

Rachel Gilmer
by Rachel Gilmer, Al Jazeera

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera‘s editorial stance.


After white nationalism defence, lawmaker Steve King faces rebuke

After white nationalism defence, lawmaker Steve King faces rebuke

US House Republicans strip Iowa Congressman Steve King of his committee assignments after uproar.

Iowa Representative Steve King speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum in Des Moines, Iowa in 2015 [File: Brian C Frank/Reuters]
Iowa Representative Steve King speaks at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Forum in Des Moines, Iowa in 2015 [File: Brian C Frank/Reuters]

Washington, DC – US Republican Congressman Steve King’s recent defence of white supremacy and white nationalism has provoked controversy and backlash, including from within his own party.

House Democrats are organising a vote to rebuke King’s comments, while the Republican Party has stripped the hardline politician of his committee assignments in Congress.

King served as chairman of the immigration and border security sub-committee, as well as Agriculture, Small Business and Judiciary committees in the last Congress, among others.

“We will not tolerate this in the Republican Party,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Monday, in the wake of a New York Times report in which King ostensibly defended white nationalism and white supremacy.

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilisation – how did that language become offensive?” King said in the New York Times interview. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilisation?”

US activists confront Republican Party over white nationalism

In a statement released on Monday, King claimed that his quotes were “mischaracterised” and said McCarthy’s decision to remove King’s committee assignments “ignores the truth”.

Claiming that he has denounced white nationalism and white supremacy, King said, “My record as a vocal advocate for Western Civilisation is nearly as full as my record in defence of Freedom of Speech [all sic].”

In a separate statement directly addressing the New York Times article, King dismissed claims that he sympathises with white nationalists or white supremacists. “Under any fair political definition, I am simply a Nationalist [sic].”

‘Brazen and crass’

For years, few in the Republican Party batted an eye when King railed against Muslims and immigrants, made overtly racist statements, and built ties with hardline elements of the European far right.

King, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, promoted the idea of building a wall on the US-Mexico border over a decade ago and introduced legislation to end automatic birthright citizenship as far back as 2011.

Christopher Mathias, a HuffPost reporter who focuses on the far right, started following King closely in late 2017 as the politician’s social media activity increasingly overlapped with European far-rightists and some neo-Nazis.

In December 2017, King tweeted a link to an article about Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s opposition to “mixing cultures”. Alongside the link, King wrote, “Diversity is not our strength.”

In June 2018, King retweeted Mark Collett, a British far-rightist who has described himself as a “Nazi sympathiser”. Collett had shared an article claiming that a majority of young Italians oppose immigration.

“Europe is waking up,” King wrote alongside that retweet. “Will America … in time?”

“At that point, when King refused to apologise for promoting a Nazi on Twitter, I decided to take a longer, closer look at him,” Mathias told Al Jazeera.

Many of these incidents failed to prompt condemnation from fellow Republicans, but the latest King controversy has marginalised him within his own party.

“It’s partly the fact that it was in the [New York] Times and people pay attention to the Times, and it was also that King almost lost in November,” Mathias added, explaining that King has become more of “toxic asset” for Republicans than he was before.

“Because he’s so brazen and crass, it gives them the opportunity to say they denounce white supremacy, when in fact most of them are busy supporting Trump’s border wall.”

In recent years, King has travelled to Europe often to meet far-right parties and groups, including the Freedom Party of Austria, which was founded by former Nazi officers and is currently a junior coalition partner in the Austrian government.

In the US South, anti-Confederate protesters face harassment

He has promoted Geert Wilders, the Dutch anti-Muslim politician, and Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Rally party.

Last year, he endorsed the Toronto mayoral campaign of Faith Goldy, a far-right candidate who has made neo-Nazi remarks.

Shane Burley, author of Fascism Today, says that King exemplifies white nationalists’ influence on the Republican Party and mainstream conservatives in the last decade.

“At this point, I’m pretty comfortable saying Steve King is a white nationalist,” Burley told Al Jazeera. “From everything we can see, that’s what’s motivating Steve King.”

He added, “Steve King says explicitly what [Republicans] would rather not say; the Republican Party is made up of people who want to deny the racial implications of their policies.”

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Rep. Rashida Tlaib: “I won’t apologize for my comments about Trump—I still want to impeach him!”

JANUARY 08, 2019

Newly elected Democratic Congress-Woman  Rashida Tlaib of Michigan made headlines last week for declaring, “We’re going to go in there, and we’re going to impeach the motherfucker,” in reference to President Donald Trump. Tlaib made the comment at a Washington, D.C., bar, days after she made history last week when she and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota became the first Muslim women sworn in to Congress. Tlaib is part of the most diverse and most female class of representatives in U.S. history.

Dems Introduce Sweeping Voting Rights Bill to Combat Rampant Voter Suppression

JANUARY 07, 2019

Voting rights activists are hailing a new House bill that aims to restore voting rights to millions, crack down on the influence of dark money in politics, restore the landmark Voting Rights Act, establish automatic and same-day voter registration and other measures. The bill has been dubbed the For the People Act. It is the first piece of legislation introduced by the new Democratic majority in the House. We speak with Ari Berman, senior writer at Mother Jones, reporting fellow at The Nation Institute and author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.” His latest piece is titled “Democrats’ First Order of Business: Making It Easier to Vote and Harder to Buy Elections.”