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David Gergen Served Under 4 Presidents; 2 Faced Impeachment. How Does Trump's Compare?18:53
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David Gergen, professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership, at the Harvard Kennedy School,Kennedy School's Institute of Politics at Harvard University, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
David Gergen, professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership, at the Harvard Kennedy School,Kennedy School's Institute of Politics at Harvard University, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The impeachment trial against President Trump took a major step forward Wednesday as the House of Representatives voted to send two Articles of Impeachment to the Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelsoi also named seven Democrats impeachment managers, who will argue the case against the President to the Senate.

Radio Boston spoke to David Gergen, who was an adviser four presidents: Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. He was also the founding director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, where he is still a professor.

Gergen said what stood out about Wednesday's proceedings was the solemnity of the occasion.

"This had been sort of in the foreground and background floating around in our minds now for a long time," said Gergen. "Today brought it all back and showed us we are in serious territory here.

Interview Highlights

On how high the stakes are in this impeachment trial: 

Gergen: "We would be in much, much safer territory if, in fact, we were repeating the Clinton impeachment of some years ago. That impeachment, as serious as it was, basically at the end of the process, the senators applauded the people who wrote the rules. There was a 100-0 vote. There was a sense of the country coming together.

I think that this whole process... and now the trial, are going to tear further at the fabric that holds us together, and I think make it harder for the country to heal."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, flanked by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, left, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, announces impeachment managers at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 15. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, flanked by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, left, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, announces impeachment managers at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 15. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

On how he thinks about the political divide in America: 

Gergen: "Doris Kearns Goodwin... argues that we're more divided now than we have [been] at any time since the 1850s. It is terrifying because, of course, that led to the [Civil] War itself.

I remember coming home from a Democratic and Republican conventions [in 2004] and telling my wife, [after hearing] how each side demonized the other, [that] for the first time, I could begin to understand how this country had a civil war.

There is that sense now that... the evidence [like] how many people now on each side would be very unhappy if their son or daughter married somebody from a family on the other side... That's a kind of prelude to a country that's no longer a united country. There are people who seriously, if they could, would separate out again."

On what this moment demand of our public leaders:

Gergen: "I think that the moment demands of our public leaders that they go back to fundamentals, they stop making debating points, stop personalizing this, but rather try to help us get through it as a country and put the principles of unity and think of the Constitution as our binding document and try to stick with the traditions.

Frankly, my hope is that as perilous as his journey may be, I think that having the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding over these proceedings in robes, John Roberts... I think he will come to represent the symbol, the constitution itself."

This segment aired on January 15, 2020.

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Tiziana Dearing is the host of Radio Boston.

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