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Protest Black Lives Matter

Multiple Black Men Found Hanging From Trees Sparks Demand For Lynching Investigations

The bodies of four black men have been discovered hanging from trees in various parts of the country, and while police officers are ruling each incident as a suicide, the public isn’t as convinced, especially in light of all the Black Lives Matter protests that have been occurring everyday for the past few weeks in response to the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other innocent black lives at the hands of the police. 

Lynching may seem like an outdated crime, but the reality is the politics behind lynching are still very much relevant. In fact, the federal government just deemed lynching to be a federal crime this year, nearly 65 years after the case of Emmett Till rocked the nation. 

Now, tensions in America are running high, as we’re currently battling two deadly pandemics; the coronavirus and systemic racism. So when the bodies of four black men hanging from trees made headlines within the past month, individuals were convinced some sort of foul play must have been involved; especially considering the fact that members of the KKK have made appearances at some of the black lives matter protests within the past week.

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On June 9th the body of Dominique Alexander, 27, was found hanging from a tree with a rope around his neck in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan. The next day the body of 24-year-old Robert Fuller was found hanging in a tree with a rope around his neck in Palmdale, California. Two weeks prior to both of these incidents, the body of 38-year-old Malcolm Harsch was found hanging from a tree in Victorville, California, which is about an hour away from Palmdale. On Wednesday June 17th, the body of a black male teenager was found hanging from a tree on the property of Ehrhardt Elementary School in Houston, Texas. 

All four of these deaths, except for Robert Fullers, have been ruled a suicide by local police forces. After a petition demanding LA county open a homicide investigation on Fuller’s death gained over 240,000 signatures, the County Sheriff said the death will be “probed as a homicide.” Regardless, the fact that all four of these deaths by hanging happened during such a tumultuous time politically, and within the same month as each other, has the public convinced that they were planned attacks. 

Fuller’s family specifically has been very vocal about the fact that they do not believe Fuller was depressed or suicidal in the slightest. The family of Malcolm Harsch has had the same attitude and is also demanding an independent investigation be opened up for his death. 

“The explanation of suicide does not seem plausible. There are many ways to die but considering the current racial tension, a black man hanging himself from a tree definitely doesn’t sit well with us right now. We want justice not comfortable excuses,”  Harsch’s family said to the media.

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The racial tensions in America currently are mirroring that of the 1960’s, hence the major concern over these four incidents of black men dying in a way that mimics how white individuals used to murder black people in this country for sport. The conversation surrounding lynching has also been circulating through these protests even before these deaths. After video footage was released of Ahmaud Arbery being chased and killed by two white supremacists, many people took to Twitter to state that the world just witnessed a black man get lynched on camera. 

People around the nation, and the world, are continuing to march everyday until some sort of resolution is met. The goal from these protestors is a complete overhaul of the police system and the way our government splits up funding. Considering the fact that we’re currently enduring the worst public health crisis in decades, healthcare providers are especially angry at their complete lack of resources, but the overwhelming amount of riot/protective gear the police have access too with their much higher budget. 

Regardless of if these deaths were suicides or not, the fact that America has now seen four black men “hang themselves” by a rope from a tree within the same month, during a time where racial tensions have heightened greatly, is definitely reason enough to open an intense investigation. 

Suicide and mental health within the black community is also a major issue. Within the past few years suicide has been on the rise among black teenagers and young adults. Unfortunately, studies suggest a major contributing factor to this rise is the systemic racism that shows itself in America’s schooling system, police force, physical/mental health care facilities, workforce, etc. This is why the movement has such an intense momentum behind it.

If you want to know more about the Black Lives Matter movement and how you can directly help from home, click here for access to dozens of petitions, donation pages, and fundraising efforts specifically for those fighting for racial equality right now.

Stop Police Brutality Sign

Donald Trump Signs Executive Order On ‘Police-Friendly Reform’

Trump is expected to present an executive order to the White House that would create a national database of police misconduct, this way officers with a history of overly aggressive behavior can’t be transferred to another department to avoid public scrutiny.

White House

Trump Losing Major Support For His Handling Of Covid-19 and ‘Black Lives Matter’ Protests

As the United States battles two major pandemics, the coronavirus and systematic racism, the citizens of America are condemning president Trump for his complacency in both of these health crises that are killing thousands of Americans in very different ways.

Impeachment 2

Trump’s Impeachment Looks at President Trump’s View on Friendship

Next week will see President Donald Trump go on trial to defend the accusation that he offered $400 million in military aid to the Ukraine if they gave him information he could use on his political enemies.

And although it is only Trump’s “deal” with the Ukraine that is on trial, it seems that a new story regarding his world view is appearing in the media, making America’s strong relationships with its allies seemingly being based on how much money he can get from them, such as larger subsidies for US troops based in locations including South Korea.

Trump had also bragged about the fact that Saudi Arabia had placed $1 billion into a US bank account in an attempt to gain a detachment of US troops – a claim that has been declared untrue.

And while it seems that Trump is only out to get as much money as he can from his new found “friends,” he is also restricting them too. He has threatened European allies with 25% auto tariffs if they did not enforce a dispute mechanism against Iran with regards to the nuclear deal. He also threatened to take action against Iraq that would “make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame” if the country evicted US troops from the country, as is their sovereign right.

This came alongside the news that Baghdad had been warned by the US that its central bank’s account in New York could be frozen, which was seen as a clear attack to destroy their economy.

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It is actions like these that make many think that if this is the way America treats its friends, they may end up lonely soon. It has also been noted that by having a foreign policy purely designed to increase the country’s wealth goes against the United States’ mission to make the world safer for democracy.

As is always the case, Trump has his supporters who cannot see anything wrong with what he is doing. Trump’s announcement that the world has been “ripping off” America has been seen by many as exaggerations, however many others agree with him saying that creating deals with other countries is the way America has always worked.

Several text messages have been released by the House Intelligence Committee and have thrown a new name into the Ukraine issue. Robert F. Hyde – Connecticut’s congressional candidate – had sent texts where he seemed infuriated with then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Texting Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, Hyde said, “she had visitors.” Before adding “Hey broski tell me what we are doing what’s the next step.”

In retaliation to the messages being released Hyde’s Twitter account for his election campaign appeared to renounce Parnas as “some dweeb we were playing with” while Adam Schiff, House Intel leader was dismissed as a “desperate turd.”

Yet despite Trump’s dubious ways of keeping his friends happy he seems keen to be rebuilding his relationship with China.

Following on from the recent trade war with China, which saw many of China’s technology giants including Huawei being banned in the country as well as TikTok being banned from all US military, it seems that the two countries have been working towards a deal that should keep both countries happy.

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Trump’s trade deal with China was reported during the week and if Trump’s assurances that President Xi was watching on TV in Beijing is to be believed, the Chinese President would have been shocked with what he heard in the 40 minute tirade Trump delivered to Chinese leaders, CEOs, cabinet members and lawmakers as well as the world’s media. Trump was keen to announce that the impeachment is a “hoax,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer “tosses and turns” and is unable to get a good night’s sleep as well as other facts that many were not expecting to hear.

He continued to thank President Xi who is “a very, very good friend of mine” before explaining that “we’re representing different countries. He’s representing China, I’m representing the US, but we’ve developed an incredible relationship.”

Following on from Trump’s fallout with Iran many countries in the Gulf and Europe fear retaliation. The President’s unpredictable behavior alongside his habit of off-the-cuff speeches has left many governments concerned that although the American President will react when American lives are at stake, he may not be so supportive if regional interests are under attack or even merely threatened.

A great example is Trump’s reluctance to react when Iran allegedly attacked vital Saudi oil facilities last year. Although America has declared that one of its policy priorities is to protect Saudi Arabia there clearly are conditions. Ilan Goldenberg from the Center for a New American Security is an expert on Middle East issues and said there are two sides to these “battles.”

“On the one hand, they are happy that Trump is willing to sanction and pressure and take Iran down a notch.” However it appears that “they are nervous that he is unsteady and goes too far… No one really knows what Donald Trump will do”

Whatever Trump does decide to do, it is unclear whether being his friend is beneficial to you or not.

American Capitol Building

US Representative Ayanna Pressley Reveals She has Alopecia

Last year, Ayanna Pressley made history by becoming the first Black woman elected to Congress from her home state of Massachusetts. Her success came in large part as a result of her progressive policy positions, such as her support of the Green New Deal and her proposal to lower the voting age to 16, which have resonated with voters particularly during a time of increased political polarization. Pressley is well-known for her distinctive natural hairstyle, which Slate describes as “waist-long, abundant Senegalese twists,” which has given inspiration to Black women and girls as such hairstyles are often considered to be unprofessional despite the fact that, for many Black women, they are natural. As such, Pressley’s iconic hairstyle became a political statement as well, as it symbolizes personal strength in the face of pressure to conform with society’s expectations of how Black women’s hair should look.

For Pressley, the sudden loss of her hair could not have come at a worse time. As the House of Representatives was preparing to impeach Donald Trump, Pressley noticed that her hair was falling out at a rapid pace, much to her shock and horror. In a video produced for The Root, an online publication focusing on “Black news, opinions, politics, and culture,” Pressley described the experience of not wanting to go to sleep because she knew that she would lose a substantial amount of hair overnight, and she would find new bald patches on her head regularly. 

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Because her hair is a tremendous element of her public image and a key component of her political persona, Pressley described the loss of her hair as feeling like the loss of a limb. The worst night of Pressley’s personal hair loss story was the night before the House voted to approve articles of impeachment of Donald Trump, which coincided with the final stage of alopecia where all of the hair on her head was completely gone. Still mourning the loss of her hair, as well as the loss of her mentor Elijah Cummings, Pressley appeared in the House chamber to cast her vote nevertheless, wearing a wig and having not yet told the public about her hair loss. And not only that, but the moment was also the anniversary of her mother’s death, causing Pressley a tremendous amount of stress.

Pressley’s story captures an intersection of several factors impacting American life today, including racism, gender, and politics

Pressley knew that she couldn’t appear in the House chamber with a bald head, as the sudden and unexplained change in hairstyle would have been interpreted as a militant political message, which the solemn occasion did not call for. So she contacted Jamal Edmonds, a hair caregiver who created a custom wig for her hours before she was due to appear in the House chamber. While Pressley thought Edmonds had done a “beautiful job” of creating her custom wig, she felt as though she couldn’t recognize herself in the mirror, and was embarrassed about having to keep the secret of her hair loss. Pressley knew that she had to go public with her alopecia eventually, but wanted to wait for the right moment to do so. 

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Pressley’s story captures an intersection of several factors impacting American life today, including racism, gender, and politics. For many people, especially men, hair is a superficial concern and the loss of hair does not lead to any major problems. But for many Black women, especially those who work in a public-facing role like Rep. Pressley, hair represents an important aspect of personal identity, as the public at times places a disproportionate and often negative focus on the hairstyles Black women choose to adopt. And as she is a person who works in politics, which can be a nasty and cutthroat line of work, Pressley’s hair loss carries political ramifications as well. Pressley not only had to undergo the loss of her hair, which in many ways is a key part of her identity as a Black congresswoman, but also had to do so in the context of a presidential impeachment, which naturally draws tremendous attention and scrutiny, making the prospect of keeping her hair loss secret a tremendous challenge. By revealing the fact of her hair loss, Pressley feels as though she is free to experiment with different styles as she adapts to her new natural appearance.

Since telling her hair loss story, Pressley has received a tremendous amount of support from her peers in Congress as well as the general public. The other three members of the “squad,” a coalition of four congresswomen of color who advocate for progressive causes, all voiced their support; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that she was a “living blessing,” and Representative Ilhan Omar said she was “stunningly gorgeous and a magnificent black queen.” Rashida Tlaib voiced her support as well, calling her “queen” and tweeting a crown emoji. Ayanna Pressley’s embrace of her natural hairstyle in the contentious political sphere has inspired Black women and girls across the nation, and her courage in sharing her story of alopecia under remarkable circumstances continues to inspire. 

Vote Pins

FiveThirtyEight Model Gives Biden 40% Chance of Winning Nomination

As the first votes in the 2020 Democratic nomination process have not yet been cast, it’s impossible to predict with certainty who will emerge as the democratic nominee to face Trump in the general election, particularly considering the historically large field of candidates running for president this year. That being said, pollsters have worked tirelessly since the beginning of the primary season to measure voters’ preferences towards each of the candidates, generating a tremendous amount of data for analysts at organizations like FiveThirtyEight to sift through. Accordingly, FiveThirtyEight just published the first iteration of its forecast simulating the outcome of the primary season, which claims that Biden has a 2 in 5 chance of winning the nomination and Sanders has a 1 in 5 chance of winning, whereas Warren has a 1 in 8 chance and Buttigieg has a 1 in 10 chance, with all other candidates having just a 1 in 40 chance of winning the nomination.

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The results of the study, which are based on computer simulations of the primary season that are run thousands of times based on data collected from polling organizations and models generated from an analysis of previous presidential nominations, were published in an interactive format that allows users to view the calculated probability of victory for each candidate in each state. Though FiveThirtyEight has analyzed political polls for more than ten years, this year marks the first time the ABC News-owned organization has published a “complete back-to-front model of the presidential primaries.” Despite the number of complexities involved, such as the difficult-to-predict impact of the winner of one state primary or caucus on future ones, the organization feels confident enough in the accuracy of its simulations to publish its findings even at this early stage in the process. One of the factors that led to the organization’s confidence this year is the amount of data collected on the primary processes of 2008 and 2016, which helps analysts understand the nuances of how presidential primaries tend to play out. The outcome of the Iowa caucuses, for instance, has historically had a tremendous impact on voters in the other 49 states.

The race is still very much up in the air

That being said, FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver stresses that their model is a “forecast, … not an estimation of what would happen in an election held today” and that the forecast is “probabilistic” with a high degree of uncertainty. As more political events shape voters’ opinions on the candidates, more polls are conducted, and the first states begin to hold primaries and caucuses, the organization will continue to refine their predictions and update their forecast. Silver also stresses that FiveThirtyEight’s predictions should be taken literally, meaning that although Biden is currently calculated to have the best chance of any of the candidates of winning the nomination, the probability of his victory is only 40%, making it actually more likely than not that one of the other candidates will win instead.

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Although Trump’s surprise victory in 2016 led many observers to feel as though poll data is not to be trusted, as organizations like the New York Times had predicted with 85% certainty on the eve of the election that Clinton would win, FiveThirtyEight has a better track record than most organizations when it comes to the accuracy of its predictions. In 2016, FiveThirtyEight was far more pessimistic than most news outlets about the likelihood of a Clinton victory, giving the former First Lady a two-in-three chance of winning. As Nate Silver once commented, “one-in-three chances happen all the time;” when viewed from this perspective, it’s no surprise that Trump won in 2016, provided one has a realistic understanding of how to interpret the results of statistical models of probability. Accordingly, while Joe Biden has consistently led opinion polls since announcing his candidacy last year and has by far the highest probability of any candidate of winning the race for Democratic nominee, the race is still very much up in the air, as three other candidates stand a decent chance of victory as well.

Supermodel Emily Ratajkowski Endorses Bernie Sanders

While many know of Emily Ratajkowski for her tremendous Instagram following, the Polish-American supermodel also works as a political activist, using her platform to advocate for liberal causes. During the previous Democratic presidential nomination, she endorsed Bernie Sanders due to his progressive policies like environmental justice and Medicare-for-All, so it’s no surprise that she has chosen the Vermont senator again as the ideal candidate in the fight against Trump at the ballot box this November. Ratajkowski first declared her endorsement during a podcast hosted by popular liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, where the two also discussed issues relating to women’s rights and the need for a radical candidate who will energize voters and convince them to head to the polls. And in a video produced in coordination with the Sanders campaign, Ratajkowski summarized the reasons for her support of the democratic socialist candidate, praising him for his long history of supporting progressive causes and the authenticity of his character.

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Given the high-profile nature of Ratajkowski’s celebrity status, her endorsement is likely to have a meaningful positive impact on the Sanders campaign, with the first votes being cast in Iowa less than a month away. Ratajkowski told Moore during her appearance on his podcast that she wanted to do as much as she possibly could to support Sanders, meaning it’s likely that the supermodel will make appearances at campaign rallies as the election season continues. As justification for supporting a candidate who is an older, white man over a woman candidate or a candidate of color, Ratajkowski commented that now is a time for action, not symbolism, and opined that a populist, anti-establishment candidate like Sanders has a better chance of defeating Trump in the general election than a moderate like Joe Biden, who is often regarded as a safer choice at a time when the primary issue on Democratic voters’ minds is the need to prevent the incumbent candidate’s re-election.

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Ratajkowski joins a growing field of high-profile endorsements, including Michael Moore and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both of whom appeared at a campaign event to offer their support shortly following the senator’s heart attack late last year. Recently, Sanders announced an impressive fundraising haul of $34.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2019, and he currently leads the polls in some of the early-voting states, worrying members of the party establishment who fear that such a radical candidate would interfere with establishment goals or cost the Democratic party the presidency. That being said, Sanders enjoys particular popularity among significant demographics who are most likely to experience frustration with their experience of politics as usual, most notably young voters and non-white voters, two major coalitions that may be inclined to sit out during elections after being disillusioned by the political process. As such, turnout among these key demographics may be the determining factor in Sanders’ ability to clinch the nomination and, ultimately, the presidency.

Golden Globe

Celebrities Comment on Culture at 2020 Golden Globes

Last night’s Golden Globes ceremony offered a number of insights into the world of American culture as the event reflected the complex dynamic between technology, entertainment, and politics. 

As a likely consequence of fears about the impact of streaming services on the movie-going audience, Netflix won just two prizes despite holding 34 nominations, and director Sam Mendes, who won the Globe for best director, said that he hoped his prize for the World War I epic “1917” would mean that “people will turn up and see this on the big screen, the way it was intended.” Mendes’s comments mirror remarks made by Martin Scorcese, director of the acclaimed “The Irishman,” who asked audiences to watch his film in theaters if possible, despite the film being made possible thanks to a considerable investment from Netflix. As people increasingly abandon theaters for the convenience offered by mobile devices, directors fear that the cinematic experience afforded by a night at the movies faces extinction, as evidenced by their negative commentary on the nature of streaming services as well as the relative paucity of prizes award to Netflix and similar services.

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The timing of the ceremony coincided with a number of significant political events, which celebrities unsurprisingly took the opportunity to offer their personal views on. In particular, climate change took center stage last night, as actors used their platform to draw attention to the wildfires currently devastating Australia and the world’s relative lack of action in the face of catastrophic global warming. Russell Crowe was not able to attend the ceremony as he was in Australia with his family, so Jennifer Aniston, who spoke on his behalf, pleaded with the world “to act” in the midst of this crisis in order to “respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is.” Joaqin Phoenix, too, addressed climate change while accepting his award for his performance in “Joker,” saying, “it’s really nice that so many people have sent their well wishes to Australia but we have to do more than that,” adding “we don’t have to take private jets to Palm Springs for the awards.”

Coincidentally, the show took place the night before the first day of Harvey Weinstein’s trial; while nobody mentioned Weinstein by name, some celebrities addressed the problem of sexual misconduct and the value of speaking truth to power. Michelle Williams, who won the award for best actress in a limited series or TV movie for “Fosse/Verdon,” urged women to vote in their own self-interest in order to gain political power, saying “as women and as girls, things can happen to our bodies that our not our choice.” 

The new threat of war with Iran also became a subject for commentary during the show, as several actors and actresses expressed their opposition to the conflict and to President Donald Trump more generally. Patricia Arquette, while accepting an award for her role in “The Act,” criticized the president directly, saying that historians will characterize that night as “a country on the brink of war… and a president tweeting out a threat of 52 bombs including cultural sites.” She concluded by saying, “while I love my kids so much, I beg of us all to give them a better world.”

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Last night’s ceremony functioned not just as a recognition for the talent featured in the entertainment world, but of the overall atmosphere of despair clouding the American public consciousness. This was perhaps best captured by Ricky Gervais’s nihilistic opening monologue, during which he repeatedly told the audience that he didn’t care, despite preemptively accusing his celebrity peers of hypocrisy for their political activism as they’ve done work for companies with questionable ethics like Apple and Amazon, and concluding his monologue by urging the audience to “donate to Australia.” Gervais went so far as to say, “if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech; you’re in no position to lecture the public about anything, you know nothing of the real world.” Such a scathing and nihilistic attitude is a consequence of the fatigue many of us feel in response to the extremity of recent political events, and as this fatigue continues, it is sure to manifest ever-more prominently in American culture.

Royal Crest

Queen Elizabeth II to Deliver Christmas Message

The U.K. is currently embroiled in a major political controversy as the newly-elected Conservative government works to finalize the country’s departure from the European Union. The decision to leave the E.U., known as Brexit, has proved to be one of the country’s more controversial political changes, as the decision led to years of fierce government debate and a historical election in which the Conservative Party gained near-total control of the government for the first time in decades. It is in this context, alongside numerous personal issues relating to the royal family, that Queen Elizabeth II will deliver her yearly Christmas message to the nation.

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Though the message is prerecorded, it will not broadcast until tomorrow, Christmas Day. However, Buckingham Palace released some excerpts from the transcript, revealing that the queen will refer to 2019 as a “quite bumpy” year. It’s not clear as of yet what exactly the queen is referring to, but there are a number of reasons why the year may have felt rough for the queen. The excerpts also reveal that the queen will mention the fact that this year is the 75th anniversary of D-Day and will deliver a general theme highlighting the importance of reconciliation and unity.

Early this year the queen’s husband, the 97-year-old Prince Philip was involved in a car crash that injured two women, leading him to apologize and relinquish his driver’s license, and generating a public debate about older drivers. While the royal family makes every effort to avoid getting directly involved in political matters, some U.K. government functions require the queen’s participation; for instance, this summer the newly-elected Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked the queen to suspend Parliament before his request was ruled unlawful by the U.K. Supreme Court. But perhaps the most controversial event involving the royal family this year was the aftermath of a disastrous interview between Prince Andrew and the BBC, during which he failed to adequately explain the nature of his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, leading him ultimately to step down from his public duties, an extremely rare decision for a member of the royal family.

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Right after the queen recorded her Christmas message, her husband was admitted to a hospital in London, where he spent four days, giving the queen a stressful end to an already-stressful year. While the queen generally does not get into specifics about political situations in her country during her Christmas address, she is likely to allude to the political turmoil that Britain underwent in 2019 and its effects on citizens. In this time of intense political conflict, the queen is likely to focus on reconciliation, stressing the importance of unity after an election that virtually guaranteed Brexit and ensured Conservative party rule for the next five years. The queen will say that “small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding.”

Because the queen follows a principle of remaining neutral with respect to politics, it’s not exactly clear which specific events she is referring to by stressing the importance of mutual understanding and harmony, but it’s not hard to imagine she’s talking about Brexit, which has polarized the nation. The address will be broadcast on the BBC at 3 p.m. local time tomorrow, Christmas Day. The address was filmed in Windsor Castle, in the Green Drawing Room, as the queen sat beside family photos. Notably, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and their 7-month old son Archie were not present among these photos, further suggesting a rift in the royal family that has been reported in tabloids over the past several months.

Impeachment Trial

Impeachment Trial Plans Begin as Schumer Requests Witnesses

The president will be impeached this week, as the House Judiciary Committee voted to approve  two articles of impeachment for a full vote on the House floor. Because Democrats hold the majority in the House right now and this impeachment is a hyper-partisan affair, it is virtually certain that the House of Representatives will vote to send both articles to the Senate, where a trial of some sort will be held. The Senate is currently controlled by Republicans, who have 53 seats whereas the Democrats have 45. As a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate is required to remove a president from office via impeachment, this outcome is unlikely, particularly because not a single Republican senator has indicated that they’d entertain voting with the Democrats. That being said, the upcoming Senate trial is nonetheless sure to have a significant and difficult-to-predict impact on the political world, particularly in consideration of the fact that the next presidential election is less than a year away.

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Now that impeachment in the House is all but certain, Senate lawmakers have begun publicly discussing the outline and the structure of the trial. Unsurprisingly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has all but confirmed that the outcome of the trial is a foregone conclusion, saying, “there will be no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can.” Mitch McConnell wants the trial to move quickly and with little fanfare, even suggesting that witnesses may not be called at all, in the hopes that news about the facts pertaining to the trial will fly under the radar to the greatest extent possible, whereas the president wants the trial to be a bombastic, theatrical affair, believing that such an event would bolster his poll numbers. 

Despite this difference in opinion, though, Democrats were infuriated by McConnell’s suggestion that the trial should be orchestrated in coordination with the defendant in the trial, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling it “totally out of line.” During impeachment, senators are assigned the role of juror, and as such are required to swear an oath which reads: “I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.” The Republicans’ coordination with the White House, then, would seem to be a clear and direct violation of this oath, as jurors who have already made up their minds before the trial takes place plainly impede justice.

The decisions senators will make throughout the process are hard to predict and will shed light on these their characters and indeed on the health of the republic generally.

Nevertheless, Democrats are doing everything in their power to negotiate with the Senate majority to make the trial process as fair as they can. Accordingly, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer today wrote a letter to McConnell outlining the witnesses he wishes to call during the trial, which will likely not be held until next year. Given the president’s love of drama and theatrics, it is likely that some witnesses will be called for the trial, though it’s unclear exactly who would be compelled to testify: Schumer specifically requested the appearance of Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former Security Advisor John Bolton, both of whom refused to cooperate with congressionally approved subpoenas during the inquiry at the direction of the White House and may simply continue to ignore further calls to testify; and Republicans likely will seek testimonies of the unnamed whistleblower and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, the former of whom is protected by anonymity statutes and the latter of whom is not a fact or expert witness in this case and thus would have little legal justification for being compelled to act as a witness. 

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Though Schumer knows that he likely cannot change McConnell’s mind, or the minds of Trump’s most ardent defenders in the Senate, he believes he may convince enough Republican senators that at the very least relevant witnesses should be called to testify to secure the 51 votes necessary to pass an agreed-upon set of rules designed to enable a fair trial. When it comes to impeachment trials, there exists very little historical precedent for how they should be arranged and conducted, and impeachment has never before occurred in a political environment as hyper-partisan and polarized as today’s; as such, the decisions senators will make throughout the process are hard to predict and will shed light on these their characters and indeed on the health of the republic generally.