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Stage set for Trump’s Senate trial as Pelosi relents

The Republicans in the Senate have feared up for the trial which can start as early as next week.

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Trump Speaker PelosTrump Speaker Nancy Pelosii

New York, Jan 11 : The stage has been set for the historic trial of US President Donald Trump before the Senate after Speaker Nancy Pelosi ended her standoff with the Republican-controlled upper house and announced that she will be forwarding it the impeachment documents.

Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic members of the House of Representative on Friday that she would hold a vote next week on sending the Articles of Impeachment, as the chargesheet framed against Trump is called, to the Senate.

He is charged with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The Republicans in the Senate have feared up for the trial which can start as early as next week.

The trial will be purely symbolic because the Democrats will not be able to muster the two-thirds vote needed to convict and oust Trump from office.

The nation is equally divided on whether the Senate should convict him. According to RealClear Politics, the authoritative aggregators of polls, 47.2 per cent of Americans want him removed from office, while 47.4 per cent are against it.

The offer to send the impeachment documents signals a setback for Pelosi’s attempts to force Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to introduce new evidence and witnesses at the Senate trial and to break the Republican majority on the trial procedures.

Although the Democrat-majority House had impeached Trump last month, Pelosi held on to the documents in order to delay the trial as she and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Party leader in the Senate, bargained with McConnell and tried to build pressure against him.

McConnell rejected their requests and to pressure Pelosi to send the impeachment chargesheet, he backed a Republican resolution in the Senate to dismiss the impeachment if she did not send the document within a specified time.

Meanwhile, Trump taunted Pelosi saying that she was “afraid” to send the impeachment documents for trial because it was “phony.” His supporters took up the call.

The House managers for the Senate trial, who will act as prosecutors, will also be appointed next week Pelosi said.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over the trial and the Senators will act as jurors.

Although the Senators are supposed to be neutral like jurors in a court trial, the Senate impeachment trials are political with most Senators following the party line.

Republicans hold 53 seats in the 100-member Senate and on procedural matters they have the majority to set the rules, even if a couple of Republicans defect.

Two Republican Senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, have expressed concern over how the party leaders want to hold the trial. Collins has said that Senators should remain neutral and not prejudge the case.

Trump has said that he wants a full-fledged trial with witnesses, which Pelosi also wants, but McConnell has indicated that he prefers a quick trial.

This will be only the third time that a US president would be tried after impeachment in the nation’s 243-year history and Trump can expect to be acquitted like his two predecessors, Bill Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Johnson in 1868, because there won’t be a two-thirds majority to convict and remove him from office.

The House voted to impeach Trump after proceedings spread over three months that included secret and public hearings by House committees.

The charges against Trump stem from a July phone call he had with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he asked him as a “favour” to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Democrats say that this was an abuse power and amounted to inviting foreign interference in US elections as Biden is the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination to run against Trump in this year’s election.

They also say that he withheld crucial military aid to Ukraine, a US ally against Russia, to pressure Zelensky and this endangered US national security. Trump said he delayed the aid to make sure the new government stomped out corruption.

Trump’s refusal to provide documents to the House investigation and allow witnesses to testify brought the obstruction charge.

Hunter Biden, who was made to leave the Navy because of alleged drug use and had no experience in the energy industry or in Ukrainian businesses was appointed a director of a gas company there and received monthly payments of $83,000, according to Republicans.

The former vice president, who was looking after Ukrainians affairs, had a prosecutor looking into gas company removed.

He and the Democrats say that it was because the prosecutor was corrupt, while Republicans see it as a conflict of interest.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

Disaster

Maharashtra minister Ashok Chavan tests Covid-19 positive

He is the second Cabinet Minister in the Maha Vikas Aghadi govermnent to test positive after Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad was diagnosed last month.

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ashok chavan

Mumbai, May 25 : Maharashtra PWD Minister Ashok Chavan is reported to have tested Covid-19 positive, party sources said here late on Sunday.

The former Chief Minister’s condition has been described as asymptomatic and he is under treatment in Nanded, his home town.

He is the second Cabinet Minister in the Maha Vikas Aghadi govermnent to test positive after Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad was diagnosed last month. After nearly a month’s treatment, Awhad was fully cured and discharged.

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Will not tolerate high-handedness of UP govt: Jitin Prasada

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Jitin Prasada Congress UP

New Delhi, May 24 (IANS) Upset over the arrest of state party president Ajay Kumar Lallu and registration of cases against its leaders, the Congress has warned the UP government that this “high-handedness” will not be “tolerated”.

Congress working committee member Jitin Prasada, talking to IANS, alleged that the government is misusing the lockdown as opposition parties can”t assemble and agitate at the moment. But as and when the lockdown is lifted, the Congress and its workers will not leave any stone “unturned”.

The Congress and the UP government are at loggerheads since the state government refused to allow buses provided by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, on pretext of not providing the ”appropriate list”. The Congress has alleged that the government is insensitive towards the plight of the migrants who are walking towards their home.

Uttar Pradesh Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu was brought to Lucknow, late on Wednesday night from Agra, and produced before a magistrate. He was taken for medical examination at the Civil Hospital and then taken to a temporary jail.

He was arrested in a case of fraud and forgery, related to bungling in the list of buses submitted by the Congress to the Uttar Pradesh government for bringing migrant workers.

Lallu was arrested immediately after he was granted bail in another case by the court in Agra on Wednesday. He had been arrested in Agra on Tuesday for protesting against the government”s refusal to allow movement of buses in the state.

Meanwhile, talking to reporters in Lucknow during his medical examination, Lallu said, “Such cases and jail sentences are a reward for a political worker. The government can heap cases on me and keep me in jail but they should provide immediate relief to migrant workers.”

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Thackeray hints at lockdown extension, flight restrictions

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Uddhav Thackeray-

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, here on Sunday, hinted at further extension of the lockdown after May 31 and proposed restrictions on plans to resume domestic flights from May 25 as the Covid-19 situation could worsen after the onset of monsoon.

Addressing the state, Thackeray said it was not proper to impose the lockdown suddenly and now it couldn’t be lifted abruptly as it would be detrimental to the people.

“We will have to study the situation carefully before moving ahead. The coming weeks are critical as the spread of coronavirus is increasing. People must exercise extreme precautions during monsoon,” Thackeray said.

Hours after Home Minister Anil Deshmukh red-flagged the Centre’s plans to resume domestic flights from Monday, Thackeray spoke with Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri on the issue.

The Chief Minister has communicated that till Mumbai International Airport plans and finetunes airport operations, they (Centre) should initiate minimum possible domestic flights from Maharashtra from Monday.

“These should be purely emergent in nature, like for international transfer passengers, medical emergencies, students and cases on compassionate grounds,” said an official from the CMO.

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