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‘Queens Man Impeached’: A Paper Gives Trump the Local Treatment

The trilogy is now complete.

Shortly after the House of Representatives impeached President Trump and charged him with “incitement of insurrection” on Wednesday, the Queens Daily Eagle, an outlet that covers the borough where Mr. Trump was born and raised, offered its readers a decidedly local spin on the news: “Queens man impeached — again.”

The opening paragraph continued in the same vein. “A Queens-born real estate developer made history Wednesday when he became the first U.S. president ever impeached twice by the House of Representatives,” it read.

The Queens Daily Eagle had gone with local-angle treatment twice before in its coverage of major Trump news. “Queens man impeached” was the headline for its Dec. 19, 2019, article on the first impeachment. On Nov. 7, 2020, the paper did a callback — “Queens man evicted” — to note Mr. Trump’s election loss.

All three exercises in dry newsroom humor drew wide attention, bringing recognition to a two-year-old publication that got its start when the local news industry was in crisis.

“People love it,” said David Brand, the Queens Daily Eagle managing editor. “It’s a self-parody of local news, and I think people get that.”

He said the idea of casting the president as just another onetime borough resident came up in a 2019 meeting with two former staff members, Jonathan Sperling and Victoria Merlino, both of whom have since left journalism. Mr. Sperling came up with the first “Queens man” headline.

“I just wanted to add a little humor into what had been a couple of rough years,” Mr. Sperling, 23, said.

He called the response to the first “Queens man” story “mind-blowing,” noting that Rachel Maddow had highlighted it on her MSNBC show.

“Does it really matter that he’s from Queens?” Mr. Sperling said. “Maybe not. But the point still stands — there’s always a local angle.”

Mr. Trump was born in the borough’s Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and grew up in Jamaica Estates, an enclave partly developed by his father, the real estate executive Fred C. Trump.

The Trump Impeachment ›

Answers to your questions about the impeachment process:

The current impeachment proceedings are testing the bounds of the process, raising questions never contemplated before. Here’s what we know.

    • How does the impeachment process work? Members of the House consider whether to impeach the president — the equivalent of an indictment in a criminal case — and members of the Senate consider whether to remove him, holding a trial in which senators act as the jury. The test, as set by the Constitution, is whether the president has committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The House vote required only a simple majority of lawmakers to agree that the president has, in fact, committed high crimes and misdemeanors; the Senate vote requires a two-thirds majority.
    • Does impeaching Trump disqualify him from holding office again? Conviction in an impeachment trial does not automatically disqualify Mr. Trump from future public office. But if the Senate were to convict him, the Constitution allows a subsequent vote to bar an official from holding “any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.” That vote would require only a simple majority of senators. There is no precedent, however, for disqualifying a president from future office, and the issue could end up before the Supreme Court.
    • Can the Senate hold a trial after Biden becomes president? The Senate could hold a trial for Mr. Trump even after he has left office, though there is no precedent for it. Democrats who control the House can choose when to send their article of impeachment to the Senate, at which point that chamber would have to immediately move to begin the trial. But even if the House immediately transmitted the charge to the other side of the Capitol, an agreement between Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate would be needed to take it up before Jan. 19, a day before Mr. Biden is inaugurated. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said on Wednesday that he would not agree to such an agreement. Given that timetable, the trial probably will not start until after Mr. Biden is president.

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