Former US President Donald Trump has been acquitted for a second time by the Senate after Republicans overwhelmingly voted against convicting him on the charge of inciting the 6 January riot at the Capitol, but senior party leader Mitch McConnel blasted him soon afterwards for provoking it.
The Senate voted 57 to 43 to convict him on Saturday and although seven Republicans went over to the Democrat’s side to convict him, it was 10 votes short of the 67 needed for the two-thirds majority needed for conviction.
The other Republicans stood firmly by Trump thwarting his conviction, although after the vote McConnell delivered his harsh criticism pinning on him the blame for the riot that killed at least five people including a police officer.
Two other police officers died in its aftermath.
In his first trial in February 2020 on the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress he went free because the Democrats could not muster 67 votes.
If Trump can claim a victory, it was tarnished by his own party members blaming him for the riot, even as they voted against his conviction.
“There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said after he had voted to acquit him.
He said that his vote against conviction was based on a technicality that under the Constitution Trump could not be impeached by the House of Representatives and tried by the Senate because he was out of office.
Most Republicans and Trump’s lawyers argued that since the Constitution specified the president as one of those who can be impeached with the punishment of being removed from office, he could not be tried as he was now a private citizen.
Democrats and their Republican supporters, however, said that although he was no longer the President, he could still be impeached and face the penalty of being barred from running for office.
The Democratic Party leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer condemned the Republicans who voted against the conviction.
“The failure to convict Donald Trump will live as a vote of infamy in the history of the US Senate,” he said.
Reacting to the acquittal, President Joe Biden said: “This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America.
“While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute. Even those opposed to the conviction, like Senate Minority Leader McConnell, believe Donald Trump was guilty of a ‘disgraceful dereliction of duty’ and ‘practically and morally responsible for provoking’ the violence unleashed on the Capitol.”
Trump has disputed the results of the November 3, 2020, election that he lost alleging that there was massive fraud.
On the day of the riots, he held a rally of his supporters at which he repeated the fraud claim saying that the election was “stolen” and told them “we fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore”.
Some of his supporters later marched to the Capitol while Congress was tallying the votes of the electoral college that elected Biden.
A section of them broke through the security and stormed the building, breaking into the Senate chamber and the offices of leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Mike Pence, who as the then-Vice President was presiding over the Senate, and other members of Congress were hustled away to safety.
“The former president tried to overturn the results of a legitimate election and provoked an assault on our own government,” Schumer said of the attack while Congress was completing the election process.
It was “the most despicable act that any president has ever committed”, he added.
The House impeached Trump on January 13 and sent the charge of inciting an insurrection to Senate to hold the trial with the Senators acting as jurors.
Biden had indicated that he wanted a quick end to the impeachment so the Senate can take up his agenda of rebuilding the nation after the Covid-19 pandemic and also approve the nomination of key members of his administration.
The Republicans also wanted a short impeachment to enable them to put the Trump era behind them.
After two days of Democratic Party arguments during the trial with videos of the riots interspersed with clips of Trump speaking to his supporters, Trump’s lawyers gave a short presentation on Friday defending him.
But on Saturday morning when the Senate was expected to have short concluding arguments by both sides and vote on the conviction, Jamie Raskin, the lead prosecutor, sowed confusion by demanding to call as a witness Republican Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler who had claimed that Republican party leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy, had told her that when he spoke to Trump about the rioters breaking into the Capitol he appeared to condone it.
The Senate voted to call witnesses, but Trump’s lawyers scored a minor victory when they force the prosecutors to back off from calling witnesses.
Trump’s lawyer Michael van der Veen threatened to call 100 witnesses, including Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Pelosi, with likelihood of the trial stretching indefinitely and if the Democrats blocked his request it would give the impression that the trial was unfair.
Under pressure from Democratic leaders who did not want to prolong the trial, the prosecutors dropped their demand for witnesses and instead agreed to only have Beutler’s statement included in the record of the proceedings.
Beutler had said on Friday night when the trial seemed ready to wrap up: “When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the President initially repeated the falsehood that it was Antifa that had breached the Capitol.”
The Antifa are anti-fascists made up of extreme leftists and anarchists, who have attacked government and public property, especially in Washington and Oregon states.
She said: “McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That’s when, according to McCarthy, the President said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are’.”
The prosecutors drawn from the House, who are technically called House Managers, made appealed to emotions with the videos, making the Senators, and the rest of the nation, relive the harrowing attack on the Capitol.
They linked Trump’s questioning the legitimacy of the election even after about 50 cases challenging it had been thrown out by courts and his exhortations to his supporters to “fight like hell” to the riots.
Trump’s lawyers mostly centered their defence on his constitutional rights to free speech in questioning the election and asserted that while he wanted his supporters to protest, he did not want them to riot.
They cited another part of his speech in which he said: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”
They also said that Democratic leaders had also told their supporters to “fight like hell” and it wasn’t to be taken seriously.
Democrats knew from the beginning that their impeachment would likely end in Trump’s acquittal, but they went ahead to avenge their humiliations by Trump and to derail the Republicans in next year’s mid-term elections.
Even Republicans like McConnell, who had criticised Trump for continuing to question the election and blamed him for the riots, could not vote to convict him because the former President still has the loyalty of his supporters who are a core element of the party.
Republican leaders are now caught between keeping the support of Trump’s base, while not alienating the moderates disgusted by the attack on Congress.
Having voted against conviction to placate Trump’s supporters, they feel free to criticise him to appeal to the moderates.
But Trump threatens to continue to haunt them.
He said after the acquittal: “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun. In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people.” IANS
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Kangana Ranaut, sister move SC to transfer cases from Mumbai to Shimla court
New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): Hindi film actor Kangana Ranaut and her sister Rangoli Chandel have moved the Supreme Court seeking the transfer of criminal cases pending against them in various courts of Maharashtra’s Mumbai to Shimla in Himachal Pradesh.
Ranaut and Chandel claimed that they face a threat to life if the trials proceed in Mumbai, because of the personal vendetta of Shiv Sena leaders against them.
Ranaut in her plea said that looking at the threat perception, she was granted Y-plus category of CRPF security by the Home Ministry, therefore, it becomes quite evident that they “face a serious threat to life and property and if the trial of the cases are not transferred out of Mumbai their life will be at risk.”
Various cases were filed against both the sisters including the criminal defamation complaint by veteran lyricist, Javed Akhtar alleging that Ranaut had made defamatory remarks against him on Republic TV after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
Advocate Ali Kashif Khan Deshmukh had also filed a criminal case against them in Mumbai for allegedly causing disharmony between Hindus and Muslims by her tweets. He had cited the example of Ranaut’s tweet on Mumbai turning into “Pakistan Occupied Kashmir”.
A sedition case was filed by casting director Munawar Ali Sayyed, who alleged that Ranaut and her sister tried to create a communal divide through social media and they deliberately made the tweets to bring hatred and excite disaffection towards the Maharashtra government.
The sisters have now approached the top court urging to transfer all the cases to Himachal Pradesh, their home state.
In their petition, Ranaut stated that “Shiv Sena will leave no stone unturned to eliminate her, because of her continuous outspokenness against the wrongs done by the Shiv Sena in collusion with big names of the Hindi film industry.”
Ranaut in the plea pointed out that Sanjay Raut, who is a senior Shiv Sena leader and a Member of Parliament had used inappropriate words against her and the Shiv Sena-led Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) illegally demolished her Pali Hill Bungalow. The plea added that the Bombay High Court has declared the BMC’s act of demolishing a part of her bungalow illegal, and added that it smacked of malafide intentions.
Ranaut and Chandel further stated that while they have utmost faith and respect for courts in the country, they apprehend a threat to their life and property if the trial in the cases continues in Mumbai. They also alleged harassment at the instance of the Maharashtra government led by Shiv Sena.
“These acts of the Maharashtra government clearly show that the Maharashtra government has malafide intentions against the petitioners and that if the petitioners visit Maharashtra to attend the trials, there will be a constant threat to them from the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra government,” the plea stated. (ANI)
Congress workers burn effigy of Ghulam Nabi Azad for praising PM Narendra Modi
Jammu (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], March 2 (ANI): Congress party workers on Tuesday burnt an effigy of senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and raised slogans against him in a protest in Jammu.
This comes as Azad praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G-23 event in the state saying that he speaks frankly about his past as a tea-seller and never tried to hide his background from the world.
Targeting Azad, Shahnawaz Choudhary, General Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee said Congress has always held him in high esteem but today when it is time to support the party, Azad forged a friendship with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“Congress has always given him (Ghulam Nabi Azad) so much. Congress has only made him the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, but when it is time for him to pay-back to the party, he is making Congress weak by not supporting his own party,” Choudhary said.
Another Congress worker, Aijaz Choudhary, Vice President of Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee said, “Ghulam Nabi Azad praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi who took our statehood and people like him become the reason for making Congress weak.”
“Azad should have guided the party with his experience in politics to resurrect the party and not weaken it,” Choudhary added.
The protesters who were carrying party flags said they will fight against any force questioning the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
At the same time, Ghulam Nabi Azad’s statement has not been liked by G-23 members too. A leader told ANI on the condition of anonymity that Azad should not have made these remarks as they can deflect attention from the G-23’s aim of strengthening the party.
An event was organised in Jammu by the Gandhi Global Family whose national chairman is Ghulam Nabi Azad where G-23 leaders were invited. (ANI)
Fuel price hike: Youth Congress stages protest outside petroleum ministry
New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): Youth Congress workers on Tuesday staged a protest outside the petroleum ministry over rising prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas.
Hundreds of Indian Youth Congress activists assembled outside the petroleum ministry office with placards in their hands and raised slogans against the central government. The police, meanwhile, arrested a few of the protesters to control the situation.
The prices of petrol and diesel have increased sharply over the past few days, with that of petrol touching the 100-rupee mark in some of the cities. Opposition parties have held protests in different parts of the country over the rising prices of fuel.
On February 25, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that she won’t be able to answer when the prices of petrol and diesel will be reduced.
“I won’t be able to say ‘when’. It is a ‘dharam sankat’ (dilemma),” Sitharaman said at an event in Ahmedabad after being asked when would the central government reduce fuel prices.
Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel Dharmendra Pradhan has also said that price of fuel will decrease once the winter season ends.
“Increase in petroleum price in international market has affected consumers too. Prices will come down a little as winter goes away. It is an international matter, price is high due to increase in demand, it happens in winter. It will come down as the season ends,” Pradhan had said on February 26. (ANI)
Why is Modi govt charging common people for COVID-19 vaccine, asks Prithviraj Chavan
Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 2 (ANI): Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday questioned the central government’s decision to charge for COVID-19 vaccine in phase-II that began on March 1.
In phase-II, people over the age of 60 and over the age of 45 with co-morbidity can get inoculated at the designated centres by paying Rs 250.
In a press conference, Prithviraj Chavan said that in phase-I, the union government had procured 1.65 crore doses of vaccine at a cost of Rs 210 per dose.
“According to the budget speech delivered by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on February 1, 2021, Rs 35,000 crore has been earmarked for the vaccination drive. In this amount, at the cost of Rs 210 per dose more than 1.5 billion doses can be procured which can inoculate 75 crore population twice covering almost the entire adult population of India. If budgetary provisions are made then, why charge common people?” Chavan asked.
Comparing to the vaccine drives in countries like the United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK), the Congress leader said, “Large countries such as the USA, UK or Canada are providing free vaccines to their citizens either through insurance scheme or by budgetary provisions.”
He further demanded that all beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (Aayushman Bharat) must be given a free COVID-19 vaccine.
“I demand all beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (Aayushman Bharat) must be given free COVID-19 vaccine. Unfortunately, despite lofty budgetary announcements and India being the largest supplier of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Modi government is digging into the common man’s pocket.”
The price of the coronavirus vaccine at private facilities in the country has been capped at Rs 250 per dose, which includes Rs 100 as a service charge, according to central government sources.
Last Friday, the health ministry had said that the COVID-19 vaccination will be free of charge at government vaccination centres. The beneficiary will have to show a photo ID document for proof of age (preferably Aadhar card or EPIC card) and a certificate of co-morbidity (if required).
Those taking the COVID vaccine at any designated/empanelled private health facility will have to pay a pre-fixed charge.
States and UTs were explained the simplified process of registration, which shall be through three routes: Advance Self-Registration: In this, the beneficiaries will be able to self-register in advance by downloading the Co-WIN 2.0 portal and through other IT applications such as Aarogya Setu etc. (ANI)
BJP chief asks officials in Rajasthan to strengthen party cadre, do self-analysis
Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India], March 2 (ANI): Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Jagat Prakash Nadda on Tuesday advised party officials to strengthen the cadre and do self-analysis.
Addressing the ‘State Executive Meeting’ at Birla Auditorium, Jaipur, Nadda asked the officials to complete the formation of booth committees by September 24.
“A lot of people among us have stopped self-analysis. This reduces our productivity. You all need to start doing self-analysis. You need to analyse –what you are giving to the party, how much contribution are you making to the party, at what level are you accepted in the party,” he said.
“The formation of our booth committees should be completed by 25th September i.e. Deendayal Upadhyay ji’s birth anniversary. There should not be any booth where our booth committee is not formed and every booth should have women, youth, Dalit brothers, people from backward caste in our committees,” he added.
Nadda asked the party officials to ensure BJP’s victory in Rajasthan in the next Assembly polls.
“Ashok Gehlot government’s priority is to not have a well-governed state. Seeing this, it is our responsibility, to say ‘namaskar to this sarkar’ and make sure that the lotus blooms here,” he said.
Commenting upon the goal of the party in 2021, Nadda said, “We have a good image in public, but we are a cadre-based party. Therefore, it is our responsibility to strengthen the cadre. Strong mandals, active booths and active panna pramkukhs, these are the three goals we have to complete in 2021.”
Lauding the Prime Minister’s role in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, the BJP chief said, “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination has begun. We have sent the Made-in-India vaccines to over 20 countries.”
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi by taking the COVID-19 vaccine yesterday has given a clear message that we must take the vaccination drive ahead,” he added.
Nadda also slammed Opposition parties over the protest against the three farm laws saying that farmers are our ‘annadata’ and “we need to bring them in the mainstream. But, many parties are exploiting the protest for their own gain.” (ANI)
‘Hundred suspicion don’t make a proof’: Court cites Russian Novelist to drop murder charges against two in Delhi violence case
New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): A Delhi court on Tuesday dropped attempt to murder charges against two accused in connection with north-east violence case quoting Russian Novelist Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky that “from a hundred rabbits you can’t make a horse, a hundred suspicion don’t make a proof.”
Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat dropped the attempt to murder charges and Arms Act against two accused- Imran alias Teli and Babu and said that there must be some material against the accused persons to frame a charge.
“Presumption can’t be stretched to take the shape of proof/evidence. The chargesheet depicts nothing for charging them under Section 307 Indian Penal Code (IPC) or Arms Act,” the court said.
The court said that Dostoevsky in, “Crime and Punishment” says from a hundred rabbits you can’t make a horse, a hundred suspicion don’t make a proof”. Thus, both the accused persons are discharged of the offences under Section 307 (attempt to murder) IPC and Arms Act.
Delhi Police has alleged that Imran alias Teli and Babu were members of unlawful assembly armed with weapons and participating in the rioting on February 25, 2020, near Maujpur Red Light. Delhi Police has booked them under Section 143/144/147/148/149/307 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 27 of Arms Act.
The Court noted that the gunshot injury is stated to be caused to one Rahul but he is missing and his statement is also not on record.
The police have, after a long investigation, concluded that Rahul, who is stated to have been shot by the mob/rioters comprising the accused persons, had given a wrong address as also a wrong mobile phone number in his Medico Legal Case (MLC).
“So by the time, police arrived at the hospital, the alleged victim Rahul had vanished. It is not as if Rahul gave an initial statement and then vanished. The State is categorical in saying that the police never saw Rahul,” the court said.
“That being the case, who is going to say that who shot whom and by whom and where,” the Court added.
The court further said that the alleged victim has never been seen by the police. He has never given any statement about any gunshot injury or about any mob or rioters.
“So how is Section 307 IPC made out against the accused persons when the victim is absent from even the police investigation. How is the gunshot injury established? There is no murmur of that,” the court further added.
The Court said that there is ground for presuming that the accused persons have committed the offence but not exclusively triable by the Court of Sessions.
Therefore, the Court transferred the matter back to the magistrate Court to decide on the issue of framing charges under unlawful assembly and others.
The Court asked Imran and Babu to mark their appearance at the magistrate court on March 8. (ANI)
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