Morning Brief

U.S. House Holds Vote To Impeach Trump—Again

The impeachment resolution is expected to pass easily, although it’s not yet known how a Senate trial will play out.

A worker cleans the statue of former President Andrew Jackson in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on January 12, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
A worker cleans the statue of former President Andrew Jackson in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on January 12, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: The U.S. House of Representatives will hold a vote to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump for a second time, Uganda imposes a social media blackout, and India’s supreme court stays controversial agriculture reform legislation.

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U.S. House To Hold Second Impeachment Vote

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump for the second time in little over a year in a vote likely to take place today.

Representatives are to vote on a single article of impeachment, accusing Trump of “inciting violence against the government of the United States,” charging him as an instigator and accomplice to the riot at the Capitol building on Jan. 6. With a majority in the House, Democrats should approve the charges easily, and may even garner a number of Republican votes.

What comes next? What happens after impeachment is less straightforward. With only a week to go until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, a rapid Senate trial is unlikely. Democrats could decide to delay sending the case to the Senate indefinitely, wait until after Biden’s first 100 days as Rep. James Clyburn has suggested, or pursue a trial in tandem with normal Senate business, an approach Biden has asked about.

Will it matter? Much will depend on how Republican leaders decide to approach the issue. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly in favor of impeachment, although it’s not clear whether that support will extend to advocating for a guilty verdict among his fellow Republican senators (a chance to bar Trump from holding future office may be welcomed by some ambitious senators, however).


What We’re Following Today

Pompeo snubbed? U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s final overseas trip, due to take place today, has been abruptly cancelled, reportedly due to lack of interest from the European officials he was scheduled to meet.

Reuters reports that Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn declined to meet with Pompeo in a possible reaction to last Wednesday’s Capitol Building riot. Asselborn had called Trump a “political pyromaniac” on local radio last Thursday.

The U.S. State Department maintains that the last-minute cancellation was due to a focus on working with the Biden transition team one week before the handover of power. The same excuse was given for the sudden cancellation of U.S. United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft’s trip to Taiwan, also scheduled for today.

As Jeffrey Lewis writes in Foreign Policy, Pompeo’s final days in office may be more about bluffing his way to a legacy.

Uganda imposes social media blackout. Uganda’s communication regulator has ordered internet service providers to block all social media platforms until further notice, just two days ahead of the country’s presidential election. President Yoweri Museveni has defended the move, saying it was retaliation for Facebook removing accounts affiliated to his National Resistance Movement party. Facebook said it had removed the network because they breached rules on coordinated activity and the use of fake accounts.

Indian farmers granted reprieve. India’s Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of controversial agricultural reforms that have prompted weeks of protests from the country’s farmers. The court has appointed an independent committee to attempt to broker a deal between farmers unions and the Indian government, who have already held eight rounds of talks.

Balbir Singh Rajewal, a leader of one of the unions, called the committee formation a government tactic, citing the committee members’ previous public statements in support of the new laws. “We have decided that our agitation will continue,” he said.

Vaccines for Africa. The African Union will announce today the procurement of 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses for the continent, although the suppliers are not yet known. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current AU chair, is expected to officially break the news.

Nicaise Ndembi, senior science adviser for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the vaccines were acquired independently of the COVAX initiative.


Keep an Eye On

Ethiopia-Sudan tensions. Ethiopia has accused Sudanese forces of encroaching deeper into the disputed al-Fashqa Triangle and continuing a military build-up along its border. “The Sudanese side seems to be pushing in so as to inflame the situation on the ground,” Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said on Tuesday. “Is Ethiopia going to start a war? Well, we are saying let’s work on diplomacy.” Mufti added that even diplomacy “has a limit.” Writing in Foreign Policy in November, Nizar Manek and Mohamed Kheir Omer warned of the potential for conflict in the Fashqa region.

Mexican marijuana. Mexico’s health ministry published new rules on Tuesday regulating the study and cultivation of medical marijuana, as the country moves toward full legalization. The rules lay out strict controls for companies wishing to conduct research, which will be overseen by the Mexican health regulator.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on a bill allowing recreational use once Congress reconvenes. If passed, Mexico would become the world’s largest legal cannabis market.

Kuwait’s cabinet resigns. The cabinet of Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah has lasted less than a month after members resigned en masse on Tuesday. The move comes as members of parliament were due to question Sheikh Sabah’s cabinet appointments, among other issues. Kuwait’s Government Communications Office said the government had resigned “in light of developments in the relationship between the National Assembly and the government, and what the national interest may warrant.”

Germany to push Biden on corporate tax. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said he will attempt to reach an agreement with the incoming Biden administration on a set of global corporate tax rules for multinationals first put forward by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The new rules would aim to raise an additional $100 billion in revenues by levying taxes based on the country the profit was generated in—rather than where the company is headquartered—as well as applying a global minimum corporate tax rate.


Odds and Ends

Walk of shame. A couple in Canada have been fined roughly $1,200 dollars each after police found a woman walking her husband on a leash, in contravention of Quebec’s strict curfew rules. According to local media, the woman told police she was merely out “walking her dog,” one of the few activities allowed during the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

Hippopolitics. The descendants of four hippos set free from the Colombia-based menagerie of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar are leaving a destructive legacy in the country, as a new study projects their numbers to increase to 1,500 by 2040, posing dangers to crops and the native ecosystem. The Washington Post reports on the quest to tame the numbers of the invasive species before they go that high, including a complex sterilization program, while others advocate a cull.


That’s it for today.

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Photo credit: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn

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