Why are people obsessed with Trump

US expert Grünzweig on impeachment proceduresTrump "permanently preventing from holding public office"

On January 20, Joe Biden is inducted into his new office as President of the United States. Donald Trump would then no longer be the incumbent president. Nevertheless, impeachment proceedings are currently being discussed in the USA following the attack by sympathizers on the Capitol. With such a procedure, Trump could be excluded from public office in the future, said Walter Grünzweig, Professor of American Literature and Culture at the Technical University of Dortmund, in the Dlf. That would have to be decided separately by the Senate.



Friedbert Meurer: Mr. Grünzweig, how much sense would it make now, an impeachment procedure?

Walter Grünzweig: Well, I think that makes sense in two ways, I think there are two levels involved: on the one hand, a symbolic level. It is made clear that such an attack on the country's central institutions is unsustainable. And I think many expect that after these TV pictures, some kind of hygiene measure. This physical attack on the architectural site of democratic democracy also caused a shock somewhere. And maybe that can be resolved or alleviated. At the same time, it is of course also possible to prevent him from exercising public office again in the long term.

Meurer: It is actually possible that one then ...

Green branch: "Disqualification to hold an Office", as that is also called. That must then be decided separately by the Senate. And for that you only need a simple majority and not the two-thirds majority that you need to convict and remove Trump from office.

Trump "just keep away for the future"

Meurer: Suppose that at some point the Republicans have a majority in the Senate or in the House of Representatives again, could that just not be overturned in a few years?

Green branch: No, I do not think so. That would be permanent. I do not believe at all that Trump - whether it is done now or not - has very good future prospects for 2024. That will change anyway. But I could imagine that this is now being tried as a preventive measure. And that the reason for the impeachment procedure is actually to simply keep it away for the future.

Meurer: Do you see even the slightest chance that there will be a two-thirds majority in the Senate? Then 17 Republican senators would have to vote for the impeachment and for the indictment, it has been calculated.

Green branch: Yes exactly. You need 67 female senators, and after the Georgia victories, the Democrats now have 50, which means they still need 17. It's not very easy, but it's not impossible either. And I think it depends a bit on how the Republican Party develops over the next few weeks. If you think about it, under the impression of the incidents, of the 13 senators who actually wanted to vote against Biden on Wednesday, then decided on night seven not to do so, only six remained. Something has changed in a very short time, and that could continue. The senators are only elected every six years and are therefore somewhat more free in their thoughts and actions. But I think it will still not be easy to jump over the shadows.

(AFP / Getty / Jon Cherry) Historian: "Talk of civil war blurs the situation"
According to historian Volker Depkat, the storming of the Capitol in Washington was not yet a civil war, but it was an unprecedented outbreak of violence by an American mob. An incumbent president "lets his people off the chain" has never happened before, said Depkat in the Dlf.

Meurer: What is going on in their minds now? You look at how the Republicans are developing, what role Trump will play, Senators are now weighing that up for their own future. or how do you see it?

Green branch: I think they are very obsessed with the fact that they will still need Trump's support, especially in two years' time. In particular, the members of the House of Representatives, who are all 100 percent up for re-election. They are of course very afraid that they will get into trouble if Trump shoots himself at them.

Meurer: Do you think Trump will still play a big role in two years?

Green branch: Personally, I don't think so, but I think it's important that they believe in it at the moment. Well over 100, once even over half, of the Republican House of Representatives voted against Biden on Wednesday. And that after the Capitol scandal.

Republicans "will probably have to find each other"

Meurer: What do you think, Herr Grünzweig, in which direction will the Republican Party move?

Green branch: Well, that's difficult. They probably have to find themselves again and reflect on their situation. I always warn against reacting with a European shake of the head in the face of this situation. The US parties are not as tightly organized - if you imagine that a Bernie Sanders, who was actually never a real Democrat, could become a candidate there and apply - that is much more open. Trump just took it over. And maybe they have to try to actually tighten their party system in a European sense and also to tighten the structure of the parties a little. I think that could happen to you now.

Meurer: At the end of the day, it all resonates, I'll say, the base then has a clear say about how the journey will continue. Do you have any idea how the grassroots, I believe 74 million Americans who voted Donald Trump ...

Green branch: Yes, 75 million.

Meurer: Or even 75 million ...

Green branch: But I've rounded that up now.

Trump supporters "need a way back"

Meurer: How do they see Trump now?

Green branch: That really is the big question. They are not identical to the carnival figures that climbed into the Capitol. I believe that this social media bubble already contributes to the fact that broader groups can be radically influenced, but this sentence, which I have now often heard, "we are not - that's not us", we are not and so on, is already widely accepted, including among these 75 million. It is of course still the case that they have been quite influenced for four years now. And somehow they also need a way, a way back. And you have to try to level it. I'm not sure that the impeachment process will be very helpful there.

(picture alliance / Captital Pictures) Political scientist: "Trump will stimulate his people every day"
Political scientist Christian Hacke sees the storming of the Capitol in Washington as the prelude to the resistance of Donald Trump and his supporters against the presidency of Joe Biden. There is only one remedy, said Hacke in the Dlf: Biden has to deliver.

Meurer: Is it a Democrat mistake if they do it?

Green branch: That is also difficult. If you don't do that, the Democratic Party will get into trouble. And then it says again, ah yes, you don't take it seriously and all that.

Meurer: But it could be perceived as unfair by the other side, or what do you think?

Green branch: Yes, it can be, yes. I believe that the opinion elites or those of these 75 million who are perceived as such, that they must also consider how they face the people, under quotation marks. Why do these people vote, why did these people get carried away to vote for Trump. And why did you make that decision? I think that's an important question to ask yourself.

Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not adopt statements made by its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.