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Trump to address split Congress, Senate on verge of acquitting him at trial

TRUMP IMPEACHMENT | 04 de febrero de 2020

By Lucia Leal

Washington, Feb 3 (efe-epa).- The Democratic House "managers" and President Donald Trump's legal team on Monday made their closing arguments in the president's Senate impeachment trial, just one day before the mogul is scheduled to address the full Congress in his annual State of the Union address.

Although senators will take Tuesday off to consider their votes in Trump's trial, to be held on Wednesday, it is virtually a foregone conclusion that - with the existing 53-47 Republican majority in the Senate - the president will be acquitted and the Democrats who brought the case against him will be frustrated in their endeavor to remove him from office.

Meanwhile, the presidential campaign is already in full swing, with the Iowa Democratic caucuses kicking off primary season being held on Monday evening.

Two articles of impeachment - the first for abuse of power and the second for obstruction of Congress - were filed against Trump by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives in December, but during the recent Senate trial, GOP senators blocked a move to call any witnesses who might have shed additional light on Trump's wrongdoing, opting to simply acquit the president, come what may.

In light of his pending "victory" in the Senate, Trump will deliver an "optimistic" speech that is intended to be seen in sharp contrast to the bitter political divisions that have widened during his impeachment trial.

"History will not be kind to Donald Trump," Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the lead House manager in the trial, said in his closing argument before the Senate on Monday. "I think we all know that. And if you find that the House has proved its case and still vote to acquit, your name will be tied to his with a cord of steel for all of history."

"He has not changed. He will not change," said Schiff. "A man without character or ethical compass will never find his way."

Schiff also excoriated Trump on a personal level, warning senators - and the public at large - that Trump had already tried to cheat in the 2020 election by trying to pressure Ukraine into announcing a corruption investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, and asserting that he will keep trying if the senators acquit him on Wednesday.

In 1999, during his State of the Union address, then-President Bill Clinton, who was also mired in impeachment proceedings at the time, surprised many observers by not uttering the word "impeachment" a single time during his address to Congress.

Clinton only made reference to the controversies dividing the country and focused on emphasizing the economic success the country was enjoying at the time and on proposing legislative measures.

The current White House plans to follow in that vein, using the speech to give Trump a presidential and effective image at a time when the president needs to tout his successes and expand his base of voters to ensure re-election in November.

But Trump almost inevitably uses any official act or pronouncement to refer to the impeachment trial, calling it a "hoax" and a "witch hunt," and nobody is willing to rule out that once he finds himself standing before the full Congress he will feel compelled to boast about his imminent acquittal.

In the Trump era, the annual State of the Union address has become almost the only occasion on which the president adjusts his behavior to what is considered to be traditional presidential behavior in the US, and for the past two years he has even included some praise for Democrats.

This time around, Trump will come to the Capitol bearing a message of unshakable optimism and he will encourage Congress to work with him to continue building an inclusive economy, the White House has said.

Trump will provide a review of his efforts to maintain security on the border with Mexico by building a wall, and he will also mention the decline in undocumented migrant entries into the US, but he will go on to criticize "sanctuary cities" that protect those migrants, the White House said.

The president is also expected to hail the ratification this month in Congress of the USMCA trade treaty negotiated with Mexico and Canada, and he will mention the partial agreement with China in the bilateral trade and tariff war he launched along with his desire to negotiate separate trade agreements with the United Kingdom and the European Union.

The White House has opted not to provide details about the part of Trump's speech dealing with foreign policy beyond predicting that it will be "energetic" regarding Iran and will promote his recently announced Middle East peace plan, which is heavily weighted in favor of Israel and which the Palestinians have rejected.

The same senators who will attend Trump's speech on Tuesday were present in the Senate chamber for the final arguments by the Democratic House managers and the president's legal team.

"I hope and pray that we never have a president like Donald Trump in the Democratic Party - and I would hope to God that if we did we would impeach him, and Democrats would lead the way. History will not be kind to Donald Trump. I think we all know that," said Schiff in his closing argument.

Schiff warned that if Trump were not convicted of abuse of power in the Ukraine case, he could feel that he has the green light to "sell Alaska" to the Russians in exchange for the Kremlin's support in the coming election, or decide to move permanently to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and leave the country in the hands of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Schiff said that since those things are not necessarily criminal, the president's defense team has said that Trump cannot be impeached for undertaking such actions, and that is "absurd."

Meanwhile, defense lawyer and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone insisted in his own closing statement that the impeachment proceedings have been nothing more than the Democrats' attempt to "overturn" the results of the 2016 election, although - even if Trump were to be removed from office - his Republican vice president and running mate, Mike Pence, would become president and the GOP would still retain control of the White House.

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