Trump impeachment trial: Three things that make the verdict crucial to all of us | US News

Nobody really expects Donald Trump to be convicted at his impeachment trial. The numbers are in his favour and there’s little sign that the Republican Party has turned against him.

But there are three things that make this verdict so fascinating.

Firstly – the outcome will be greeted as a huge victory by one side or the other. Clearly, were Mr Trump to be convicted, then the Democrats would feel that they had slayed a dragon. But if the former president is exonerated, then you can expect him to come out punching.

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‘What is impeachable conduct?’

Secondly, and following on from that – it will suggest just how much a grip Mr Trump retains on the Republican Party. In the hours and days that followed the attack on the Capitol, some of his strongest allies were critical of Mr Trump, but that internal opposition has now seemed to waiver.

But imagine that a significant number of Republican senators voted against him. That might embolden others, or even persuade the former president to rein in his political ambitions.

Among those gambling on the end of Mr Trump’s hold on his party are those considered likely to enter the race for the White House in 2024. They include former vice president Mike Pence, now a figure of hate among Trump supporters who consider him a traitor, and Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations, who said she was “disgusted” by Mr Trump’s treatment of Mr Pence.

But who is the favourite to get the Republican nomination in 2024? Step forward Donald Trump. This leads us to the third thing that makes the outcome of this trial so important.

Because despite all the criticism that has been poured down upon him, lots of people simply don’t care. Beyond the scrutiny in Washington, Mr Trump has enduring, if hugely divisive, popularity across the US.

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Trump impeachment evidence: Capitol riot video

A YouGov poll for The Economist earlier this week showed 87% of Republicans have a favourable view of Mr Trump, roughly the same sort of towering popularity he enjoyed before the Capitol riot.

But among the general population, that same figure is just 39%. In other words – lots of Republicans still really like him. And the rest of America really doesn’t.

If he’s cleared by this Senate trial, then you can bet that Mr Trump will frame this as another victory against a political establishment that doesn’t understand him, or his supporters. And he’d probably have a point – the disdain for him, among Democrats, is absolutely palpable.

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Video shows how close Capitol rioters got to officials

But more than 74 million people voted for Mr Trump, a decent percentage of whom still think that he was cheated of victory. It’s very hard to believe that the man whose influence now permeates every corner of the Republican Party would see a triumph over the impeaching Democrats as a sign that it was time to take a step back from politics.

So there is plenty at stake here. There have only been four impeachment trials in history, and Mr Trump is responsible for half of them. He is a controversial leader, but also one who inspires great affection among his supporters. Whether he wins or, much less likely, loses this weekend, the ripples could spread wide.

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Stars meet Scorchers in crucial clash

The Perth Scorchers loom as the unfortunate victims of angry Stars paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile, who intends to make amends for his horror and costly over in the Melbourne derby.

Coulter-Nile admits he had trouble sleeping on Wednesday night after conceding 19 runs in the game’s second last over as the Renegades went on a hitting frenzy to upset their BBL Melbourne rivals at Marvel Stadium.

The loss has left the Stars vulnerable to missing out on a top-five spot should they also lose to the Scorchers on Saturday night at the MCG.

“The Renegades batted really well, but it would have been nice to get a bit more sleep, but that happens,” Coulter-Nile said.

“It was disappointing to drop that one – we should have won.

“Execution is really what hurt us, and you probably don’t expect that from your senior bowler. which is disappointing. They were coming out all right for me until that last over.

“The boys are going to have to start stepping up. We probably need two wins from our last two games (to make the finals).”

A former Scorcher, Coulter-Nile admitted to having “mixed feelings” about Perth being his target this weekend, but promised sentiment would not get in the way.

“I’m still good friends with a lot of them and I want a lot of them to do well, but I also want the Scorchers to lose every game they play,” the 33-year-old Australian T20 representative said.

“It’s a tough one. We’re going to have to try to find some form, Hopefully we can use our MCG experience and really take it to them.

“We do play really well at the MCG. We know the ground really well and `Maxi’ (Glenn Maxwell) skippers really well there.”

Scorchers fast bowler AJ Tye said his Perth teammates were cheering when the Renegades got the better of Coulter-Nile and the Stars.

“They Stars have got four WA guys in their squad so there is a good bit of friendly rivalry there,” Tye said.

“It’s always good to get one up over your mates so we’ll definitely be trying to make sure we come out on the positive end of it.”

Meanwhile, Andre Fletcher has played his last match of the BBL season for the Stars after being ruled out of Saturday night’s match with a quadriceps strain.

The West Indian opening batsman leaves Australia on Sunday to take part in the Abu Dhabi T10 competition.

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Access to capital crucial to small-business survival: ASBFEO

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, has called on the Government to set up a revenue-contingent loan scheme for small businesses. The Ombudsman said that such a move is critical to the cashflow requirements of many SMEs in staying solvents in the next 12 months with COVID fiscal stimulus measures ending and banks still making the loans process so complicated and time-consuming for small businesses.

“Unfortunately, it’s a perfect storm scenario, especially for those small businesses that haven’t been able to fully recover from the COVID crisis,” Carnell said.

“Access to credit will be critical to keeping those otherwise viable small businesses afloat, particularly over the coming months as support measures are phased out and the bills start flowing in again.”

The Ombudsman is advocating for a revenue-contingent loan scheme for small businesses that mirrors the HECS scheme, meaning borrowers will only have to start making repayments once their turnover reaches a specified level. The proposal is that the Federal Government fund the scheme, and that maximum loan values are calculated based on each SME’s annual revenue, with businesses applying for funding needing to pass  a viability test to qualify.

“Sudden lockdowns and border closures have heavily impacted small businesses in recent weeks – it’s no wonder they are scared to take on additional bank debt given conditions can deteriorate so rapidly,” Carnell said.

“Even in the best of times, small businesses have struggled to secure finance. Taking into account the enormous challenges they are now facing, the fallout of insufficient working capital could be devastating, not only for small business owners and their staff, but for the broader economy,” Carnell added.

“The latest ASIC data shows external administrator appointments were up by 23 per cent in December 2020 and economists are predicting the number of businesses entering voluntary administration to rise this year.

“A revenue-contingent loan scheme would give small businesses the confidence they need to seek funding, so they can survive and employ again. It’s essential to Australia’s economic recovery.”

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5G will be crucial for the security of critical sectors like healthcare

5G will not just have lightning-fast connectivity and ultra-low latency when the latest-generation wireless technology becomes more widespread in critical industries such as healthcare and manufacturing – 5G will be pivotal to providing adequate security support as well.

Unlike its predecessor standards like 3G and 4G which were more geared towards improving the consumer experience over the previous generation, 5G will be the first wireless technology to be largely focused on critical sectors such as hospitals and manufacturing plants, according to a networking cybersecurity expert.

Oscar Visaya, the Philippines’ Country Manager for American cybersecurity specialists Palo Alto Networks, told a virtual briefing recently that while 5G will play an integral role in protecting digital infrastructure in important industries, a new wireless standard like 5G will undoubtedly come with a host of new security issues.

Given how influential 5G will be in the coming years, Visaya says his firm has been consulting with telecommunications operators for at least two years, in preparation to provide comprehensive 5G cyber security support.

“That’s the reason why they’re very serious about 5G security and I’m confident that based on what I’m seeing, they should be ready for rolling out these services for not only the enterprises but also for (the) government,” he said.

For businesses, 5G network security will have to be adequately tested beforehand, to ensure they are up to the rigors of ever-evolving network security threats. “So there has to be some inspection that needs to happen so that you can enforce policies to be able to protect it,” he added.

For the time being, 4G is still the most pervasive connectivity standard in the world, but it will be progressively replaced as 5G infrastructure becomes more widely available over the next few years. Already, companies are also introducing their own private 5G networks, with prioritized bandwidth and low latency for their organizations.

Palo Alto Networks vice president and regional chief security officer for Asia Pacific (APAC) and Japan, Sean Duca, also spoke at the virtual briefing and commented on how 5G cyberattacks are still few and far between for now, as 5G availability is still limited, but that several 5G proof-of-concept attacks “have forced users to drop from 5G to 4G networks, emphasizing the importance of 4G security even as we enter the age of 5G.”

The availability of seasoned cybersecurity experts is also limited, and the pandemic has illustrated how critical cyber security talent will be. In several regions, the private sector stepped up to recruit and train dedicated cyber security personnel.

“While this is a positive start towards building a more sustainable talent pipeline, businesses still need to be mindful that these new resources aren’t a panacea for the global shortage,” Duca said, adding that he hopes that more individuals will choose cybersecurity-linked careers in the future.

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Vigilance is crucial in renewed battle against virus

As the Melbourne outbreak will probably prove once again, the virus needs little encouragement to hitch a ride. Before Christmas, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was on shaky ground denouncing other states for what she called their overreactions to Sydney’s outbreak. Now it appears to have seeded a suburban Melbourne cluster. Earlier in the year, it spread in the opposite direction, from Melbourne to Sydney, the busiest transit route in Australia.

During the last pandemic, in early 1919, Australia’s first case of Spanish flu was admitted to hospital in Melbourne. Within a month it had spread to Sydney via an infected returned soldier who had travelled from Melbourne by train. NSW was so incensed, it shut the borders.

With Victorians having spent many weeks in hard lockdown to contain the virus, it is understandable they are being hyper-vigilant, including a quick return to mandatory mask wearing in indoor public settings.

Ms Berejiklian’s approach has been markedly less aggressive, despite the larger and more widespread nature of the Sydney outbreak. She has defended her less aggressive approach and she clearly has confidence in a contact tracing team that has a proven record of quashing outbreaks.

Ms Berejiklian has suggested to residents in the southern part of Sydney’s northern beaches that there might be some easing of restrictions on Saturday. To the disbelief of many in Victoria, the Sydney cricket Test will go ahead with the SCG at half capacity. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who famously declared as the first wave of the virus hit in March that he would go to a final Cronulla Sharks game before reversing course, said on Friday he would go to the cricket if he could.

These are signs of a growing confidence. But there are mixed signals. Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said that despite being a cricket tragic and being happy for the Sydney Test to go ahead, he would not take his elderly family members to see it.


During the long winter lockdown, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews came under harsh criticism – from national business groups, his state’s own federal Liberal MPs, and from many ordinary people – for running what Tony Abbott described as a “health dictatorship”. Ms Berejiklian has taken a different tack: she is trying, with the help of her “gold standard” contact tracers, to steer her state along the cliff edge, protecting health while limiting the economic damage.

It’s a line that other countries have tried and failed to tread, but the declining case count in NSW gives some cause for optimism – despite the sniping in some quarters that NSW has exported its problem to Victoria.

In the northern hemisphere, meanwhile, as winter stretches on, the death tolls are mounting despite the early vaccine rollout. Australians, it seems, must suffer closed borders, mask wearing and crimped social gatherings so our summer outbreak does not roll into a harsh winter. The lesson is that, even though we have kissed 2020 good riddance, the need to stay vigilant remains.

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Trump to headline Georgia rally next week ahead of crucial runoffs

President Trump will hold a rally in Georgia on the eve of the crucial U.S. Senate runoff election in support of the state’s two Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, he announced on Sunday.

“On behalf of two GREAT Senators, @sendavidperdue & @KLoeffler, I will be going to Georgia on Monday night, January 4th, to have a big and wonderful RALLY,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “So important for our country that they win!”

Trump returned to the campaign trail earlier this month, hosting an evening rally in Valdosta, Ga., where he described the stakes in the dual contests as a decision of “whether your children will grow up in a socialist country or free country.”

The balance of power for the next Senate will come out of these contests. The current tally on Capitol Hill is 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats. If Democrats win both of Georgia’s runoff elections to make it a 50-50 Senate, power will shift to the Democrats with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote and giving her party a razor-thin majority in the chamber.


In Georgia, where state law dictates a runoff if no candidate reaches 50% of the vote, Perdue narrowly missed avoiding a runoff, winning 49.75% of the vote. Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff trailed by roughly 87,000 votes.

In the other race, Loeffler captured nearly 26% of the vote in a whopping 20-candidate special election to fill the final two years of the term of former GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson. Democratic candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock won nearly 33% of the vote.

The campaigns, political parties, and outside groups such as super PACs are dishing out massive amounts of money into the runoffs. More than $200 million has reportedly been raised in a last-ditch effort by Republicans to maintain control of the legislative chamber. 

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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NAB says capital crucial to surviving ‘fragile’ environment

Vaccine developments and low case numbers had injected optimism into the economy, Mr Chronican said, adding it was unlikely the bank would need to raise further capital, but acknowledged it was hard to make forecasts.

“Our current capital ratio is well in excess of APRA’s minimal requirements but I’m also conscious in this year it’s quite a problematic issue to forecast into the future,” he said.

“In the last 24 hours, we have seen in Sydney how quickly the situation can change,” he said.

The bank’s remuneration report received about 98 per cent shareholder approval, after chief executive Ross McEwan took a 20 per cent pay cut and froze bonus payments to his leadership team.

This was the second consecutive year NAB’s executives did not receive bonuses although Mr Chronican said this was unlikely to continue, citing talent retention concerns.


At the AGM, NAB was questioned on its climate policy including funding for Origin Energy’s shale gas project at Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory. It also copped criticism for funding Whitehaven Coal which last week pled guilty to breaching environment laws 19 times.

NAB has committed to phasing out its lending to thermal coal by 2030 and Mr Chronican said the bank would review its oil and gas exposures next year as the lender moves towards a net zero emissions by 2050 target. Mr Chronican reiterated the bank’s commitment to prioritising low carbon energy projects – pointing to its $5.5 billion exposure to renewables, compared to $675 million in thermal coal and $2.7 billion in oil and gas.

“With the way we expect the world to head, companies that do not have a transition path towards 2050 will run the increasing risk of their business models no longer being viable,” he said. “For a bank, that becomes a risky exposure. That’s why we’re taking the comprehensive approach to managing climate risk.”

All directors seeking re-election were approved by more than 98 per cent of shareholders.

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Boris Johnson told off by Ursula von der Leyen for not wearing face mask before crucial Brexit talks

More hectoring from an EU bureaucrat, or a jumped-up Briton not being respectful in Brussels?

When Boris Johnson arrived in Belgium on Wednesday night for crucial Brexit talks with the European Commission president, he probably expected a lecture.

But no sooner had he got out of his car and arrived for the meeting was he cautioned by Ursula von der Leyen for not maintaining social distancing (watch the video above).

As the two leaders posed for the cameras, the Prime Minister asked Ms Von der Leyen if they were taking their masks off.

The EC president agreed, but as Mr Johnson stepped too close to her, she told him to “keep distance” before they briefly removed their face coverings.

Ms von der Leyen added: “Then we have to put it back on. You have to put it back on immediately.”

The Prime Minister responded, saying: “You run a tight ship here, Ursula, and quite right too.”

The pair then headed off for dinner as talks on a post-Brexit trade deal remained on a knife-edge.

Read more: Steely and determined – the real Ursula von der Leyen

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has been told to “seize his place in history” at the “most important time politically” since the 1688 glorious revolution by one of the leaders of the Tory party’s Eurosceptic wing.

In an interview for today’s Chopper’s Politics podcast, which you can listen to on the audio player below, David Jones MP, the vice chairman of the European Research Group of Conservative MPs, said that at stake in the Brexit trade talks “is the future of this country as an independent nation”.

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Crucial senator to block vote on ‘un-Australian’ cashless welfare card scheme as debate continues

Key crossbench senator Rex Patrick will vote against continuing the cashless welfare card, putting the government’s legislation in danger of being defeated.

Senator Patrick is believed to have the crucial vote in the upper house, which is debating the bill on Wednesday evening.

“In the end, weighing up all the evidence, the difficulty for me is the government has not made out its case,” he told parliament.

Senator Patrick criticised the coalition for pointing to an unreleased report about its effectiveness in stopping welfare recipients from drinking, gambling or using drugs.

“We do not have empirical data, any definitive data set that would guide as to whether or not it actually does achieve those particular objectives,” he said.

If the bill doesn’t pass before parliament rises for 2020, the controversial trials will end abruptly on 31 December.

The legislation also moves more than 20,000 people in the Northern Territory onto the cards from another income management scheme.

Trials are occurring in Ceduna, the East Kimberley and Goldfields in Western Australia, and Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in Queensland.

Senator Patrick visited Ceduna as he made his deliberations on the card, which quarantines up to 80 per cent of welfare so money can’t be spent on alcohol or gambling.

“Probably the most important people I spoke to were those that were required to use the card,” he said.

Labor and Greens senators have condemned the bill as a “racist” and “discriminatory” policy that will disproportionately impact Indigenous Australians.

Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy delivered an emotive speech over the cashless debit card.


The federal government argues the card has helped communities by preventing welfare recipients from spending money on alcohol and drugs.

But Northern Territory Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy said the government had failed to show evidence justifying its decision. 

“This legislation is wrong. It is unjust and so un-Australian,” she told the Senate.

“Listen to the Australians out there who are crying out for your empathy and to recognise the hardship that they are experiencing. 

“All this legislation does is push people further and further underground.” 

The cards freeze the majority of JobSeeker welfare support payments so cash can’t be withdrawn, and money can only be spent on items deemed essential.

Multiple inquiries into the scheme have heard issues with the system’s ability to process rent and other debit payments.

Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe compared the restrictions imposed by the card to “21st-century rations” saying the measure hindered the “self-determination” of Indigenous Australians.

“That’s what this is – let’s tell the truth – it’s putting black people back on rations,” she told the Senate.  

“Management of income is racist and colonial nonsense all over again and it is demeaning to us.”

The draft legislation narrowly made its way through the lower house on Monday with 62 votes to 61.

This came after Liberal MP Bridget Archer, who has publicly rebuked the policy, chose not to vote.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said the lack of evidence supporting bill meant it was an “outrageous waste of funding.”

“This card is a racist, discriminatory, paternalistic approach that costs this country a fortune,” she said. 

“[It] takes away people’s dignity causes anxiety and stress – it is not a good measure.”

Additional reporting by AAP.

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Donald Trump holds first rally since U.S. election ahead of crucial Georgia Senate runoff – Channel 4 News

The US has recorded more than a million new Coronavirus cases in the last five days. But that hasn’t stopped President Trump from getting back on the campaign trial. He flew to Georgia for his first rally since losing last month’s Presidential election.

In front of thousands of mostly unmasked supporters, he appealed to Republican voters to turn out for a crucial Senate run-off election in January. But much of his appearance was taken up with more unsubstantiated claims of widespread electoral fraud.

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