WASHINGTON: An 18th century Governor General of Bengal who is considered one of the architects of the “British Raj” in India came alive in the impeachment trial of former US President Donald Trump, which kicked off with on Tuesday with a harrowing 13-minute film of the storming of the US Capitol.
House managers who initiated the case against Trump cited the precedent of Warren Hastings, who was impeached after he resigned from service in India in 1785 and returned to England, to argue that America’s Founding knew of this case and referred to it during the writing of the Constitution’s clauses about impeachment.
“The framers knew all about it, and they strongly supported the impeachment. In fact, the Hastings case was invoked at the (Constitution) convention,” lawmaker Jamie Raskin, the Democrats’ lead impeachment manager and constitutional scholar, argued, as images of Hastings and a contemporary Philadelphia news clipping was flashed on video screens.
Hastings was impeached in the House of Commons for crimes and misdemeanors during his time in India, including embezzlement, extortion, and an alleged judicial killing of Maharaja Nandakumar, an Indian tax collector who fell out with ruling dispensation. Hastings was eventually acquitted, but House managers argued the case set a precedent for trying officials who have left office.
Raskin warned that if Trump was spared even from being tried for inspiring the riot, it would create a “January exception” for a lame-duck president to act without consequence in the final weeks of his administration. “It’s an invitation to the president to take his best shot at anything he may want to do on his way out the door—including using violent means to lock that door,” he argued.
In a meandering defense that invited much derision on social media and the comedy circuit, Trump’s hastily-assembled legal team countered that Democrats were driven by an “insatiable lust” to destroy the former President. One of the lawyers later went on Fox News to allege that Democrats had hired a large movie company to splice and manufacture a movie showing the storming of the Capitol on January 6 and it was all a hoax.
But the 13-minute film shook several lawmakers, and at least one Republican Senator, Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy, was persuaded that there was a case for a trial. After four hours of presentations, in all six Republican Senators joined 50 Democrats, in a 56-44 vote to proceed with the trial.
Other Senators who have broken ranks with the GOP are Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. It will require at least ten more Republican Senators to join them if Trump is to be convicted by the required 2/3rds majority.

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