Pro-impeachment protests grip America

Protesters gather at on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol in Austin in support of impeachment of US President Donald Trump. CREDIT: AP. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

WASHINGTON D.C., Dec 18, 2019, The Sydney Morning Herald. Hundreds of thousands of Americans in all 50 states are believed to have participated in protests demanding US President Donald Trump be impeached and removed from office. The “Nobody Is Above the Law” protests, held simultaneously in cities and towns across the country, came on the eve of a historic House of Representatives vote in which Trump is expected to be impeached, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

On Wednesday (Thursday Australian time) the House will vote on two articles of impeachment against Trump accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Approximately 600 protest actions were planned for Tuesday night (Wednesday Australian time) including a major rally in Times Square in New York. Despite cold and rainy conditions, the crowd at the New York event spread across six city blocks.

Protesters ther unfurled a large banner with Article II, Section 4, of the US constitution, which deals with impeachment, printed on it.

Seventy-two events were planned in California, 90 in the US north-east, 87 in the Midwest and 35 in Florida.

Rally organisers said that more than 200,000 people had registered to attend the protests. On Twitter they gathered around the hashtag #ImpeachmentEve.

Former tennis champion Martina Navratilova posted a photo on Twitter at one of the rallies.

Ironically, the principal organiser of the rallies was progressive group MoveOn, a forerunner of the Australian activist group GetUp! It was launched in 1998 on a platform that, rather than impeaching Bill Clinton, Republicans in Congress should censure him and move on to other things.

The latest average of polls by polling website FiveThirtyEight shows an almost even split in public opinion, with 47.4 per cent of Americans in favour of impeachment and 46.6 per cent opposed.

The protests followed a dramatic day in Washington, in which Trump sent a furious letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi railing against the Democrats’ impeachment push as an “illegal partisan attempted coup”.

“More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials,” Trump said in the letter.

“One hundred years from now, when people look back at this affair, I want them to understand it, and learn from it so that it can never happen to another President again.”

Pelosi responded briefly, telling a CNN reporter she found the letter “ridiculous” and “really sick”.

A stream of Democrats from Trump-friendly electorates have confirmed in recent days that they will vote for impeachment, suggesting Pelosi will comfortably have the votes to pass both articles.

Kendra Horn, a first-term Democrat from Oklahoma representing a district that strongly voted for Trump in 2016, announced on Tuesday (Wednesday Australian time) she would vote to impeach Trump.

“It is with a heavy heart, but with clarity of conviction that I have made my decision,” Horn said in a statement. “The oath I took to protect and defend the Constitution requires a vote for impeachment. This is not a decision I came to lightly, but I must do my part to ensure our democracy remains strong.”

Other vulnerable Democrats from states such as Iowa, Virginia and Kansas have announced they will also vote for impeachment.

The Republican and Democratic Senate leaders also sparred over how to conduct the Senate trial that will decide whether Trump is removed from office.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell rejected a request from his Democratic counterpart Chuck Schumer to call witnesses including acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton.

With an impeachment vote expected tomorrow Australian time, US President Donald Trump says it’s all a hoax, witch hunt and disgrace.

The White House blocked both Mulvaney and Bolton from appearing before the House’s impeachment investigation.

“The Senate is meant to act as judge and jury, to hear a trial, not to re-run the entire fact-finding investigation because angry partisans rushed sloppily through it,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

Matthew Knott is North America correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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