Adam Schiff's powerful speech sets the tone for what impeachment really means in the United States
On the second day of Donald J. Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, Representative and House manager Adam Schiff reminded the country of what is really at stake.
The second day of the third impeachment process in the history of the United States was, as expected, deeply divided between two sides: the Republican Party and the lawyers of President Donald Trump, who focused again on criticism of the process initiated by the House of Representatives, and the Democratic Party and its managers who explained to the senators and the whole country what is really going on in the country.
For months we have been following closely the events triggered by the report of a whistleblower within the Justice Department, who warned that President Donald Trump could be abusing his power by withholding funds granted by Congress to Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion, in exchange for the announcement of investigations against the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.
Since the House of Representatives announced the impeachment inquiry, hundreds of hours of testimony and evidence have come to light, building a case of violation of the law that is difficult to ignore.
However, Republican political tribalism, as well as the secrecy of a White House that refuses to cooperate, has made it seem as if it is a unilateral process against the president.
It was precisely this that the Democratic managers dismantled during their opening arguments on the second day of the Senate impeachment process, last Wednesday afternoon.
But it was the dramatic speech by Representative Adam Schiff, the House's top manager, that set the tone for the day.
In just over two hours, Schiff weaved in "historical references, political philosophy, and sweeping declarations" about what he called "President Trump's attempts to undermine the rule of law and the American election," as characterized by the New York Times.
“President Trump’s abuse of powers of his office undermine the integrity of our free and fair elections and compromised America’s national security,” Schiff said in the last 45 minutes of his opening statement.
"If we do not confront this danger today, we will write the history of our decline with our own hand," he added. "If we don’t stand up to this peril today, we will write the history of our decline with our own hand. If President Trump is not held to account, we send the message to future presidents, future congresses and generations of Americans that the personal interests of the president can fairly take precedent over those of the nation.”
The representative went on to warn of the danger of undermining the trust and integrity of the electoral process, as well as that of the rule of law and democratic values in general, which have been the banner of American diplomacy at the international level for decades.
Schiff recalled step by step how the Trump Administration, since its presidential campaign stage, has opened its arms to political interference and even requested it aloud; he recalled how the government's stratagems to cover up its agreements in irregular channels have failed thanks to the courage of a few, as well as the danger of changing the country's ideological course towards historically antagonistic regimes.
"The United States is not only a country, but also an idea," Schiff explained, warning of the risk that this idea will be emptied if the current political course is followed, and the possibility that this void will be filled by " autocrats that value not freedom of the press and open debate, but disinformation, propaganda and state-sanctioned lies.”
Although the legislator was talking about Russia, it is not difficult to see an outline that is beginning to be drawn in the national reality.
Schiff highlighted the House of Representatives' accusations against President Trump, whom they blame for having acted "in a manner totally incompatible with self-government," he said.
Faced with Justice Department guidelines that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, Schiff echoed the recommendation of the Democratic majority: impeachment.
"If impeachment and removal cannot hold him accountable, then he truly is above the law. We are nearly two-and-a-half centuries into this beautiful experiment of American democracy, but our future is not assured," he concluded.
“As Benjamin Franklin departed the constitutional convention, he was asked, “What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” He responded simply, “A republic, if you can keep it.” A fair trial, impartial consideration of all of the evidence against the president is how we keep our republic.”