Prof on Trump Impeachment Trial: 'There Clearly Is a Complete Breakdown in Party Politics'

© AP Photo / J. Scott ApplewhiteThe Capitol in Washington is seen at dawn, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.
The Capitol in Washington is seen at dawn, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. - Sputnik International
Republican Senators in the US have been accused of falling asleep, playing games and breaking other rules during US President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. Inderjeet Parmar, Professor of International Politics at City University London, shared his views on the media's reaction to the impeachment proceedings.

Sputnik: So first of all, do you believe that these impeachment processes are going well so far?

Inderjeet Parmar: They're in the very early stages and I think there's a number of key things that have yet to be decided and that involve voting on whether or not witnesses, like John Bolton, Mick Mulvaney and several others can be called, which is really important, and also all the documents which have been withheld by the White House. So at the moment, it's the early stages and I think the kind of behaviour that you're seeing in the Senate is reflective of that as well; and for the Republicans Senators, a lot of them are really trying to be very much in favour of Donald Trump and show it by treating the whole thing as a bit of a farce.

Sputnik: That's interesting you've used the word 'farce'. That's come up a few times in the mainstream media narrative about these proceedings - that they've become a 'farce'. Can you elaborate a little bit more on the idea of the trial becoming farcical?

Inderjeet Parmar: The narrative that the Trump administration and President Trump himself has effectively championed all the way through is that nothing wrong was done at any stage at all. That this is a hoax and therefore it's false. It's a comedy not to be taken seriously. Because it defies all the evidence, his argument is that it was a perfectly legitimate set of conversations that he and his various colleagues had. And this is all really directed at rooting out corruption in an allied state. So that's what they would argue is farcical, so they're trying to paint that picture and trying to act accordingly. And I think that's the narrative that they'd like the general public to focus upon.

Sputnik: For the general American. Do you think they're satisfied with the way the trial is being conducted?

Inderjeet Parmar: It's a bit difficult and early to tell how satisfied, but there is a kind of small movement in broad opinion, according to certain polls, that 50 or 51% of Americans feel that Trump has been impeached and should be removed from office. So I think they are taking it seriously to the extent that they've heard, but there is a big block of opinion also which supports Donald Trump's narrative too.

Sputnik: So the American population is increasingly divided, do you think the idea of a bipartisan America going forward is a fantasy? Is the division too large?

Inderjeet Parmar: I think there's an issue in that one, there clearly is a complete breakdown in party politics, and that there is a certain level, a division between them within the American political class, and each part of that political class is effectively is trying to win popular authority through this trial process and their behaviours are attempting to mobilize parts of the electorate behind those.

On the other hand, what is puzzling to me as well is that when it comes to the really big votes on say the authorization of the use of military force, or the annual military spending budget, which runs up over $700 billion, there is complete bipartisan agreement. That agreement in this particular year's vote has extended to the fact that the Pentagon has been forced by the Trump administration to divert military spending to the southern border, something to the tune of over nine to $10 billion and overall 16 billion if you take an account of the money which is put up.

What you've got is at one level, there's this kind of party politics, theatre, farcical behaviour, and so on. But on a deeper level, there seems to be quite a wide range of agreement as well. So I'm not sure that there's a breakdown in the bipartisanship in practice, in a big way, but certainly in terms of the imagery. The imagery is one of two groups of people at loggerheads with one another, but when you look at the voting behaviour, then the voting behaviour belies that because most Democrats, at least 60% of the time and sometimes a lot more, are supporting what the Trump administration is broadly putting forward.

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