UK prime minister Boris Johnson has characterised Donald Trump’s impeachment and acquittal on a charge of inciting insurrection against his own government as “toings and froings and all the kerfuffle”.
Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation, Johnson was asked what signal the acquittal of a president who stoked violence while casting doubt on a free election would send to the rest of the world.
“The clear message that we get from the proceedings in America,” the prime minister said, “is that after all the toings and froings and all the kerfuffle, American democracy is strong and the American constitution is strong and robust.”
Five people died as a direct result of the attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters, who the president told to “fight like hell” in his attempt to overturn election defeat by Joe Biden, on 6 January.
In the former president’s second impeachment trial, House prosecutors showed chilling footage of lawmakers being hustled to safety by Capitol police.
Members of the pro-Trump mob chanted “hang Mike Pence” as they searched for Trump’s vice-president. Some erected a gallows outside the Capitol.
Constitutional experts have not been as sure as Johnson that the episode painted America’s 233-year-old system of government in such a positive light.
Andrew Rudalevige of Bowdoin College told Axios: “Congress not even pushing back against a physical assault suggests that there’s a lot they will put up with.”
While Trump was in office, Johnson cleaved so close to the president and his populist policies and style that Biden was reported to have called the prime minister “the physical and emotional clone of Donald Trump”.
Asked on Sunday if he was concerned he and the new president might “start off on the wrong foot”, Johnson avoided the question.
“I’ve had,” he said, “I think, already two long and very good conversations with the president and we had a really good exchange, particularly about climate change and what he wants to do.”
Johnson also said the UK was “delighted now, I’m very delighted, to have a good relationship with the White House, which is an important part of any UK prime minister’s mission.”
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