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And now for the Back Story on …
The impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump that begins today is only the fourth in U.S. history. Nicholas Fandos, a congressional correspondent for The Times who covered Mr. Trump’s first impeachment, discussed what seems familiar and what feels different about this second trial.
Where will you be for the impeachment?
This time around, I will probably be watching most of the proceedings from home in Washington because, like other news organizations, we’ve tried to limit our physical presence in the Capitol. Luckily, most of these proceedings are captured on C-SPAN or are livestreamed. Vaccinations are starting to get pretty common among lawmakers, but most reporters still don’t have them.
How did covering the last impeachment prepare you to cover this one?
It’s so wild. There have been three presidential impeachment trials in American history up to this point. So there’s a certain amount of specialized expertise you have to develop to understand the rules of impeachment and the different terms, not to mention the requirement that you have some mastery over a big, complicated political, legal and constitutional story. So, in some ways this time around, I’m lucky because I don’t need to learn the rules again.
What feels similar?
The core charge against Donald Trump is in many ways the same. Essentially, he was accused of taking extraordinary, abusive steps to stay in office and to maintain his power at the expense of the Constitution and the country. I also think many of the political questions are the same. Are Republicans willing to punish and cross this figure, who may have committed these acts, but who is also the most popular figure in their party and commands a huge amount of loyalty?
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
Carole Landry helped write this briefing. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]
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