The Biden Presidency: A New Dawn for USA

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After what many termed the most contentious Presidential election in the history of the United States, a new battle ensued. The battle of how to evict Trump from the White House, and it was, to say the least, fierce and deeply worrisome. It pitched Republicans against Democrats, America’s Christian fundamentalists, the Evangelicals against the rest of Americans, pushing the world’s greatest democracy to the brink of a coup. Last Wednesday, the acclaimed winner of the contentious election, Joe R. Biden Jnr and his Vice, Kamala D. Harris, were sworn in as the 46th President and 49th Vice President of the USA, amidst tight security. Kingsley Jesuorobo, Emeka Eze, Jefferson Uwoghiren and Kede Aihie dissect the complex issues that surrounded Biden’s emergence as President, particularly the attack on Capitol Hill, the impeachment of Donald Trump and the possible consequences flowing therefrom even after Trump has ceased to be President, and what Joe Biden’s Presidency portends for Nigeria and the world

Can Trump be Tried or Impeached Outside Office?

Kingsley Jesuorobo

Background

On January 6, 2021, the United States of America suffered a brazen breach. The iconic Capitol of one of the world’s oldest democracies, was breached in a manner not seen since the foreign (British) invasion of the democratic citadel on August 24, 1814.

In his departure address to Americans, President Donald Trump touted: “I am especially proud to be the first President in decades, who has started no new wars”.

Whilst Trump was trumpeting his “no new war” claim, Americans were reeling from the horrific aftermath of an unprecedented internal war waged by insurrectionists. American prosecutors are now rounding up and prosecuting the perpetrators who allegedly besieged Washington and marched on the Capital, at the behest of Trump.

Regardless of the deep political divide in America and the polarised perspectives of people around the world about Trump, there appears to be a united opinion around the view that a wrong was committed against the United States of America by the insurrectionists. Said Trump himself of the insurrection in his farewell address: “All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol. Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated.”

In a swift and unprecedented response to the insurrection, the House of Representatives of the United States has retaliated against Trump, with his impeachment. A Senate trial is imminent, with Trump facing a real possibility of a conviction.

Meanwhile, Trump’s tenure as the President of the United States ended on January 20, 2021, with the swearing in of Joseph Biden as the 46th President.

Against the backdrop of the fact that the power of presidential impeachment was primarily designed to remove an erring President from office, legal and political pundits now ponder whether Trump can or should be tried in the Senate on the charge in respect of which he was impeached, since he is no longer in office.

Constitutional scholars who have delved into the issue, seem to be agreed that there is no express bar against a trial and possible conviction of a former President.

It is also generally agreed among scholars that, in the event of a conviction, Trump could face censure and a ban from ever holding any public office. A Senate trial therefore, has potential remedial consequences.

Hallowed Legal Principles

In light of this, I contend that the discourse ought to be engaged upon from the angles of two hallowed legal principles.

Let’s address the first principle. There is no legal system on earth that is not anchored on the popular Latin maxim “Ubi jus, ibi remedium”, which means: where there is a right, there is a remedy. The expanded meaning is that where law has established a right, there should be a corresponding remedy for its breach. When assessed from this angle, one should easily see why the trial of Trump ought to proceed to its logical conclusion, even after his departure from office.

Assuming that he committed the alleged constitutional breach, letting Trump off the hook simply because he is no longer the president will leave Americans without a remedy for the breach which they have suffered at the hands of the former President.

The second relevant legal principle is that, no man is above the law in any constitutional democracy. Though originally scripted by the great American President,Theodore Roosevelt in his Third Annual Message to Congress on December 7, 1903, wherein he said: “No man is above the law, and no man is below it”; this phrase that is associated with the broader principle of the “rule of law” has assumed irreversible significance in all constitutional contexts. This principle is not only immutably fundamental, but at least in the Presidential context, is illustrated and aided by another hallowed principle that “nemo judex in causa sua”, that is, “no one can be a judge in his own cause” – a principle that underpinned Department of Justice’s opinion, that the President of the United States cannot pardon himself. When this discourse is also assessed from this angle, one should easily see that it behooves the Congress to hold the former President accountable, through the completion of the impeachment trial process. To not do so just because the accused is no longer in power, renders him unequal to others who are held liable for infractions, irrespective of their stations in life.

Kingsley Jesuorobo, former President, Canadian Association of Nigerian Lawyers (CANL)

Donald Trump: An Anarchy Bows Out

Jefferson Uwoghiren

The United States Presidency, is a much praised and much damned institution. But, President Donald Trump raised the level of damnation higher, with his childish attempts to imperialise it. Over the years, no office within American Government has commanded the attention, nor generated the kind of positive and negative motions, nor stirred the imagination of global audience as the American Presidency.

The Role of the American President

With its multifaceted and plethora of responsibilities, the U. S Presidency and the President of United States, have come to embody the dominant and preeminent role of America in global politics.

Within American political systems, the President is the hub and centre of a delicate moving wheel, with executive officials relying and looking to him for direction, coordination and inspiration in the generation and implementation of policies; distinguished members of Congress look at him for establishing priorities, exerting influence, while while legion of heads of foreign governments and partners look up to him for articulation of positions, conducting of diplomacy and keeping world safe. The ordinary man on the street, in far flung cities look to him for enhancing global security, solving problems, and exercising moral and symbolic leadership.

Unfortunately for Donald Trump , these expectations, and much more, exceeded his abilities to meet them, and more horribly important, he failed to see America beyond America physical borders and was unwilling to attract the right persons to firmly and vigorously help him attain these lofty ideas of the Presidency. The resultant disenchantments, decline in confidence in the ability of Donald Trump to meet these objectives, plummeted his country’s moral ratings and leadership, hampered its development plans, and ultimately electoral defects for the GOP.

President Donald Trump’s inelegant responses to these challenges in the last few days of his Presidency almost resulted in the fetus of anarchy, an ugly stillbirth that will shame Americans for years to come. But, for the strength and resilience of its democratic institutions, Trump would have supplanted a fixed and old convention, with illegitimate legalism.

In all this, Donald Trump came away as a reluctant puppet of a hostile government, bent on foisting a Boris Yeltsin on America, in an elaborate covert gambit of retaliation and implosion. The history of the damages Donald Trump caused America in four years of tomfoolery will fill a Library, and I’m imagining how many Americans will scream and shout in anger, ‘’ Never Again!’’.

Jefferson Uwoghiren, Human Rights Lawyer, Benin City, Edo State

US 2020 Presidential Elections, Biden’s Emergence and Lessons Therefrom

Kede Aihie

Donald Trump’s exit from the White House, as President of the United States, ends in ignominy. His Presidency will no doubt come under scrutiny, as even Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, pales into insignificance.

Trump’s Double Impeachment

Trump was impeached by both Democrats and Republicans by 232 to 197, in the House of Representatives. So, he makes history as the first President in American history to be impeached twice. American democracy, though wounded, stood the test of time and there is no doubt, that if there is any lesson to be learnt by other democracies, it is the resilience of the American people and its institutions. Here are my takeaways.

Takeaways

First, is strong institutions. Taking a cue from other countries’ dictatorships, the role of strong institutions will be appreciated, considering how Trump was stopped in his tracks and desperation to overturn his election defeat. An unknown sub-national official from Georgia, Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, was able to rebuff Trump’s pressure asking him to “find” votes for him in a disparate phone call recorded and leaked to the Washington Post. To understand the scale of Trump’s pursuit of post-election litigation, he filed about 62 lawsuits, and not a single case was successful. Some of the Judges who presided over his lawsuits, were his appointees.

Second, is a flawed electoral process. Thanks to Trump’s baseless claims about winning the elections, the century old American Electoral College system, has exposed flaws, in the over two centuries use of the Electoral College system. In the 2000 and 2016, presidential elections, the winner earned fewer votes nationally than the loser. So, the concept of national popular vote is not what most people see. Instead, an Electoral College system designed by Federalist Congressmen in 1803, determines who becomes President. Certification of the Electoral College win, which ought to be a formality by Congress, enshrined in the Constitution, became contentious and was challenged, with Trump pressuring his Vice President, to bend the rules.

Third, is the influence of big tech companies. The biggest lessons, from the Trump years, to my mind, are the role of social media as an alternative means of communicating government policies. Big tech companies are facing scrutiny, following their effective truncation of President Trump’s oxygen of publicity, social media. Facebook, Twitter, Snap chat, Instagram, YouTube, have cut off Trump’s account, following his incitement of insurrection against Congress, and the mob attack of the Capitol by Trump’s supporters.

Add Alphabet, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, to the mix, these tech giants, are worth over $7 trillion combined. Facebook and Google made record amounts of revenue from the U.S. elections. Trump and Biden, both spent about $100m each on Facebook advertising alone. So, the issues worth debating are infringement on free speech, censorship, and free enterprise. The moral question hanging is, was is right for the social media companies to block Trump`s account? The tech firms, justify their action against Trump, by accusing him of “repeated and severe” violations of its civic integrity policies.

The debate about free speech has been fuelled by German Chancellor, Angela Merkel’s comment about free speech as a “fundamental right of vital importance” that could be restricted, “but only in accordance with the laws and within a framework defined by the legislature – not by the decision of the management of social media platforms”.

Fourth, is the role of the Media. The media played an important part in moulding opinions, and acting as watchdogs. CNN made Trump a subject of interest for the four years of his Presidency. From 20th January 2016, when Trump began his Presidency on a lie based on the crowd size of attendees at inauguration, to his chaotic last days in January 2021. Right wing media, politicians furiously defended Trump. Most Republican lawmakers rejected the election results. In the words of one Republican politician, Trump’s grip on the party and fear of losing their local elections, made a lot of them cow to Trump’s conduct.

There are a lot of burning questions, but there are no easy answers, so it is worth posing the following: Who were his enablers? – the right-wing media, White evangelical Christians, the Republican party, or the 73 million Americans, who voted for him? It would be extremely difficult to pinpoint exactly why Trump was able to get away with his appalling and egregious behaviour, as President of the United States, POTUS. The moral burden of Trump’s conduct as President of the United States, will be subject of discussions for decades to come.

Kede Aihie, Chair of the Nigeria Magazine