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Impeachment lack-tivism

Politics | At a historic moment in U.S. politics, where are all the protesters?
by Harvest Prude
Posted 1/23/20, 03:34 pm

WASHINGTON—In a city known for its political activism, the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump began Tuesday afternoon in a puzzlingly quiet way.

Neither protesters nor supporters of the president turned out in great force. A small crowd of anti-Trump demonstrators, barely visible from the U.S. Capitol steps, gathered on a nearby lawn.

Some wore bright orange vests or black shirts with white block letters that read “REMOVE TRUMP” or carried signs with the same message. Nearby, a news crew did interviews, and about three or four police officers stood guard. One man wearing a Make America Great Again cap moved through the crowd, followed by a colleague with a news camera, seeking to document protesters’ reactions to him calling the entire situation “a sham.” Some protesters, to drown him out, began using noisemakers. The situation never got testy enough for the police to intervene.

The anti-Trump demonstrators belonged to a group called Remove Trump that is associated with the Women’s March, the March for Truth, and Indivisible. Individuals with the group told me demonstrators plan to be there every day of the trial to press the Senate to oust the president. Other pro-impeachment protesters also briefly set up in the Russell Senate Office Building, including outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Capitol Police said they arrested 11 people throughout the afternoon for obstructing or crowding the area.

But the protesters’ presence barely registered as a disruption compared to just over a year ago when demonstrators flooded the U.S. Capitol for the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. From Day One of the proceedings on Sept. 4, 2018, demonstrators interrupted the hearing with chants. Groups such as Planned Parenthood, the Women’s March, and the Center for Popular Democracy helped organize a steady stream of demonstrations that led to hundreds of arrests and dozens of news reports, including a viral video of a protester confronting former Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. Even now, weather-beaten anti-Kavanaugh posters can be spotted in the city.

The impeachment trial opened Tuesday following several pre-planned rallies, including the fourth annual Women’s March on Saturday, a parade for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, and a massive gun rights rally in Richmond, Va., also on Monday. The annual March for Life will cap off the week with thousands of pro-life advocates descending on Washington on Friday.

WORLD contacted the Women’s March to ask about the small number of impeachment-related protesters but did not receive a response.

Adam Carrington, an assistant professor of politics at Hillsdale College, speculated neither the president’s supporters nor detractors have shown up in force because “it’s been really argued that this isn’t going to result in a conviction. As opposed to the Kavanaugh hearings—it really did seem like the nomination was hanging on a thread and what was done publicly really might tip the vote or two that was needed.”

He added that for the Senate to convict Trump, “you’re going to need 20 Republicans to switch sides, and that’s really almost impossible for that to happen. This can have a deflating effect when people are told—repeatedly by people who agree with them—that this is a foregone conclusion.”

Meanwhile, a steady stream of observers got tickets through their lawmakers’ offices and waited in line to observe the trial, some for as long as three hours. But they did not seem to be there to protest. Two men waiting in line declined to give me their names or discuss their political views. “I don’t think anybody would be interested in our views,” he said.

Associated Press/Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision Associated Press/Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision Hillary Clinton at the Hulu Hillary panel during the Winter 2020 Television Critics Association Press Tour on Jan. 17 in Pasadena, Calif.

2020 update

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might not be running for president, but she is still making her mark on the race. On Tuesday, she stirred up controversy for remarks that aired from her upcoming Hulu documentary. In the clip, she bashed her 2016 rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is running again this time around. “Nobody likes Sanders,” she said. “Nobody wants to work with him. He got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney, and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.” Sanders responded by telling reporters that “on a good day, my wife likes me” but declined to discuss it further.

Clinton later backtracked a bit, tweeting that the “number one priority” of the race should be beating President Donald Trump. “I will do whatever I can to support our nominee,” she added.

Another Democratic presidential candidate, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, filed a defamation lawsuit against Clinton on Wednesday. Clinton previously speculated that the Russians were grooming Gabbard to run as a third-party candidate. Gabbard likely will not prevail in the lawsuit since public figures have a higher burden of proof in defamation cases. But the suit may provide some publicity for her flagging campaign. —H.P.

Associated Press/Photo by Carlos Giusti Associated Press/Photo by Carlos Giusti Protesters outside the executive mansion in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Monday

Wasted aid

The discovery of a warehouse stocked with undistributed emergency supplies prompted hundreds of Puerto Ricans to protest on Monday in the capital city of San Juan. On Saturday, a local blogger acting on a tip discovered a warehouse stocked with things such as pallets of water bottles and baby food dating to 2017 after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island. Many of the items had expired.

Eager to diffuse the crisis, Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez fired the U.S. territory’s chief of emergency management and later two other Cabinet officials. She also announced Puerto Rico’s Department of Justice would investigate. Vázquez took the reins of the government after corruption allegations ousted former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.

Problems such as this one illustrate why the Trump administration delayed the distribution of $8.2 billion in disaster aid for the island until recently. U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson tweeted Sunday that the news “is disturbing, to say the least.” He added it “further underscores the importance” of the safeguards and restrictions the administration attached to the aid. —H.P.

Associated Press/Photo by Jacquelyn Martin (file) Associated Press/Photo by Jacquelyn Martin (file) President Donald Trump at a campaign rally earlier this month in Toledo, Ohio

Travel ban 2.0

President Donald Trump confirmed news reports Wednesday that he plans to extend a ban on travel and immigration by people hailing from seven countries.

“We’re adding a couple of countries,” the president said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “Our country has to be safe. You see what’s going on in the world.”

Trump signed the original travel ban into law in his first week of office three years ago. It drew several court challenges, but the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upheld an iteration of the rule. It bars nearly all immigration from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Iraq and Sudan were also on the list for a time.

Politico reported the revised list of affected countries could include Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. —H.P.

Harvest Prude

Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.

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  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Thu, 01/23/2020 06:29 pm

     Nothing to report here, move along please.

  • Glong
    Posted: Fri, 01/24/2020 12:05 pm

    The whole problem with the Democratic Party's would-be candidates is that their entire "platform" is "beat Trump." I tend to vote for people who will tell me what they plan to do for the country, not who they are against.