On the 13th November 2019, the public inquiry into the impeachment of President Donald Trump began. Impeachment of a president means bringing charges against him/her to Congress, forming the beginnings of a trial.
In line with the constitution, a president “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanours”. Trump finds himself in this situation after allegations emerged that he illegally sought help from Ukraine to boost his chance of re-election. After information emerged from a whistle blower in late July, Trump has been accused of withholding US military aid to Ukraine until Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky investigates allegations against Joe Biden and his son’s work at a Ukrainian energy company.
Yesterday (Tuesday 19th October) saw the hearing of witnesses in the lower house of Congress, the House of Representatives, including acting US Ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, George Kent. With partisan tensions leading to a number of heated moments, Ambassador Taylor, according to even Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, “was a very impressive witness and very damaging to the president”. At one point, Taylor pointed out to Republican Representatives “I am not here to do anything to do with… to decide about impeachment. That is not what either of us are here to do. This is your job”.
However, in order for Trump to be removed from office votes must pass first, by majority, in the House of Representatives and then by ‘super-majority’ (two thirds vote) in the Senate. No US president has ever been ousted from office under impeachment proceedings and with the thicket of vicious party politics as dense as it has ever been in, many Washington commentators doubt that the impeachment will pass through the Congress quagmire.
Nevertheless, even if we do not see Trump ejected from the Oval Office, it will still be interesting to see how recent events effect his re-election chances in 2020. Will Trump voters really care about Trump’s most recent misdemeanours when, back in 2016, they already knew about his extramarital affairs, and financial follies? Is this just one to many crimes or are Trump’s relatively successful domestic economic policies worth the sharp international censure?
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