WASHINGTON (CN) — After more than 30 hours of witness testimony, House lawmakers must hammer out the charges they believe President Donald Trump should face before they can send Articles of Impeachment to the Senate.
Contrasting Trump’s proceedings with those that occurred in 1998, Brian Kalt, a law professor at Michigan State University, noted that most Democrats agreed that President Bill Clinton had done something wrong by lying in a deposition.
Giving this inquiry a different tone, however, Republicans are not ceding that Trump has committed a crime.
Kalt said the expected vote by the House, followed by a Senate trial, all while the 2020 presidential election is underway carry big implications for presidential power. If a president is impeached in the House but not convicted in the Senate, the proceedings send a mixed message about the extent of executive power.
“Trump has broken a lot of norms here,” Kalt said in an interview.
Kim Wehle, a professor focusing on administrative law at the University of Baltimore, focused meanwhile on how social media has changed society since America faced its last impeachment push with Clinton.
Wehle said social media generally plays a large role in the polarization of Congress today. Apart from Russian actors using social media to push false narratives, and Republican congressmen in turn furthering these positions, Trump’s heavy social media presence makes it harder for constituents to hear dissenting opinions from lawmakers.
Social media was not a factor in the Clinton administration. While scholars had just begun researching the 24-hour news cycle in 1998, Paul Gronke, a political science professor at Reed University, said modern media is leagues away from that.
“I don’t recall anything like this anti-impeachment social media, almost coordinated with media outlets, at a level anything like this,” Gronke said in an interview. “There also wasn’t the resistance of the White House. We have a president who is tweeting while witnesses are testifying. There’s no precedent for this.”
It is also new terrain for the president to face impeachment over conduct that affects U.S. foreign policy. What hasn’t changed, Gronke said, is how quickly the impeachment inquiry hardens political lines.
“We saw many of the same sort of partisan division that we’re seeing in this one, and I think it was a case where we’re going to have these deep divides, in the historical memory of all the people who were a part of that,” Gronke said.
With the House Judiciary Committee set to begin its own hearings Wednesday, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told his constituents last week that the investigation wasn’t taking a turkey break.