Washington’s longest week
On Jan. 20, exactly eight days from today, if any new incidents do not occur, the U.S.’s new president, Democrat Joe Biden, will start his duty by taking his oath with a ceremony in front of the Congress building, which was targeted by radical Trump supporters on Jan. 6.
However, today’s issue is not what will happen on Jan. 20 and after. The issue is knotted on the question of how this short time span until Jan. 20 will be completed, meaning how the final scene in Washington will take place.
The matter in discussion is whether incumbent President Donald Trump — who led the way for the Jan. 6 disaster by calling on his supporters during a rally to prevent Biden from officially being declared as president by flocking to the Congress — should stay in the White House for eight days more.
When we take a look at this heated discussion in Washington, we see the possibility of numerous options.
One of these is “impeachment,” meaning Trump being unseated by the Congress. Some prominent members of the Democratic Party seem to have taken action to immediately start the impeachment process. The Democrats claim that the impeachment process can take place with the support of some members of the Republican Party, who have reacted against Trump due to the recent events.
As a matter of fact, it is difficult to say that there is enough time to complete this complex process, which involves both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
With this in mind, there is the second scenario, which involves the impeachment of Trump, by his own Cabinet, by the 25th Amendment. This amendment stipulates what to do when the president is excluded during his tenure.
Section 4 of this amendment also provides a method to remove the president when he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” For this method to function, eight members of the 15-member Cabinet, including the vice president, need to transmit their written declaration to the Congress.
If the president vetoes this maneuver, the situation goes to stalling in the Congress. This mechanism also seems to be stipulated in situations where the president’s mental or physical health weakens his ability to reason. When this amendment is enforced, the vice president takes helm in the office.
However, it seems that Vice President Mike Pence is not leaning towards this option, regardless of his overt clash with President Trump during the recent incidents. Furthermore, a leading article in the U.S.-based Wall Street Journal newspaper draws attention to the fact that the first option is to victimize Trump, while the second one has the risk of heightening tensions in an already heated political environment in the country.
The third scenario is for Trump to resign. Honestly, it does not seem realistic to expect Trump to acknowledge his mistake and retreat after four years of being president with nearly only one week left for him to depart from the office.
Thus, this takes us to the fourth option. Patiently waiting for this week to pass and generate a deterrence to prevent Trump, who has the ability to use all authority for being president, from causing new crises.
The leading article in Wall Street Journal is ending over this possibility, by saying, “It is best for everyone, himself included, if he goes away quietly.”
Putting these scenarios aside, what we have witnessed as unlikely, which became reality, is that a sad final scene is happening in the White House for Trump these days. Especially after the events on Jan. 6, the resignation of two ministers from the cabinet and some key figures from his team one after another, demonstrated that everyone wants to throw themselves out of the “sinking ship” in a fast-paced manner.
In this sense, it is understood that Trump will spend his last days in the White House in a process of abandonment and isolation, with expanding resignations.
In the meantime, it is possible to say that Trump is working hard to use his “power of pardon” as president. The channel Bloomberg reported on Jan. 8 that Trump is preparing a pardon for his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, both of whom are officially advisers to the White House.
Yet, the most striking news came from the New York Times the other day. The newspaper said that the president has discussed pardoning himself, and consulted with advisers long before the latest incidents.
There is no precedent in U.S. history for a president to issue a pardon prior to leaving office to remove legal liability for his own actions. The basic rule that has been valid since Roman law is based on the principle that “no one can judge in a case that concerns him.”
Nevertheless, if Donald Trump is the subject of discussion, no possibility should be ruled out, even if the idea being spoken seems exceptional.
It is not difficult to see why Trump is pondering this issue. He already wants to protect himself regarding the legal investigations he may face after leaving office. There are a number of problematic cases in connection to him.
In addition, the fact that voice recordings of Trump emerged, having a phone conversation with Georgia state officials, asking them to play around the election results, seem to be a potential legal problem for Trump in the coming period.
But the fact that the raid in the Congress commenced right after his call on his supporters, seem to be above all problematic cases in terms of its seriousness. Michael Sherwin, Washington D.C. Acting Attorney, who is leading the investigation on the Jan. 6 incidents, confirmed the seriousness of the issue when journalists asked him the other day whether Trump’s statement on Jan. 6 would also be scrutinized.
Sherwin said the other day: “We’re looking at all actors here, and anyone that had a role and the evidence fits the
elements of a crime, they’re going to be charged.”
Furthermore, the fact that Trump suddenly came to a point of making a statement, by saying “They tainted our democracy,” for the protestors whom he said “We love you,” after the beginning of the events on Jan. 6 indicate that he received strong warnings from his legal advisers. With his last statement, Trump has attempted to distance himself from the Jan. 6 incidents.
In addition, after Jan. 20, it is understood that a very serious questioning will be made about all of Trump’s actions during his presidency of four years, in every field from foreign policy to the economy.
Moreover, the fact that majority has passed to Democrats, first in the House of Representatives, then in the Senate, indicates that possible investigations in the Congress’ committees may cause trouble for Trump.
I think now the bells are ringing for Donald Trump.