For 3 years since the stunning election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, the Democrats have been screaming about impeachment. And for months, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi resisted mounting pressure from her Democratic Party to begin impeachment hearings against President Trump. On Tuesday, she could not resist anymore.
Nancy Pelosi has finally launched a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, setting up a dramatic and most direct confrontationbetween the Democrats and the U.S. president. “Today I’m announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” – Pelosi announced at the Capitol late Tuesday afternoon.
The final straw that broke the camel’s back was Trump administration’s refusal to hand over a whistleblower complaint related to the president’s abuse of power – seeking help from the leader of a foreign country (President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine) to investigate the activities of a Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and in the process help his own re-election in 2020.
Declaring that “no one is above the law”, Pelosi announced – “This week, the president has admitted to asking the president of Ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically. The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonourable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
Apparently, while serving as vice president from 2009 to 2017, Mr. Biden urged Ukraine’s leaders to sack the country’s general prosecutor, who wasn’t seen as aggressive enough in rooting out corruption – but also may have been looking into a company in which Mr. Biden’s son held a board position. A member of the Democratic Party, Biden is now a candidate for president in the 2020 election.
Trump said he did not pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (a comedian) in a July phone call to launch a corruption investigation into Biden and his son, Hunter, in return for U.S. military aid. It didn’t help the situation when the president hinted he may release the transcript of the call, only to backpedal and said it would set a bad precedent to do so.
Late on Monday (Sept 23), the Washington Post reported that President Trump ordered his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to put the brakes on US$400 million in military aid for Ukraine a week before the phone call with Zelenskiy on July 25. However, a White House official clarified that the decision to withhold the funds was based on corruption concerns, and not related to Biden.
Interestingly, in 2016, then-vice president Biden had threatened to withhold US$1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine if the government did not fire the country’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin. Biden’s son – Hunter Biden – was then on the board of an energy company, Burisma Holdings, owned by Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky (Ukraine’s ex-minister of natural resources).
So, Biden was actually fully aware of his son’s involvement with Burisma when he pressured Ukraine to fire the prosecutor in 2016, who was then actively investigating the country’s largest private gas company. Clearly, there was a possible conflict of interest – with Hunter Biden busy profiting in a country (he was paid US$50,000 a month) where his father was actively working with the government.
It’s possible that the whole thing was a set up from the beginning. After deciding to withhold the July phone call transcript with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Trump has suddenly authorised the release of the transcript on Wednesday (Sept 25) – suggesting that his initial refusal could be a red herringto trap the Democrats for an impeachment.
The White House is also planning to release to Congress a whistleblower’s complaint that triggered the crisis that has rocked the Trump presidency. If there’s nothing to suggest that he had abused his power in pressuring the Ukrainian government, the hunted would become the “hunter” – demanding that a full investigation against Biden’s son be initiated.
Unlike what many anti-Trump thinks, it’s not easy to boot a sitting president out of the office. In fact, it’s extremely difficult to fire a U.S. president. According to Article II, Section IV of the United States Constitution, a president can be removed from office following “Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
And unlike a normal court proceeding, impeachment is a process that happens exclusively in Congress. Members of the House act as prosecutors, the senators as jurors, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court presides. The House of Representatives, which is currently under the control of the Democrats, will initiate the process, charging the president with violating at least one of the three offenses.
Only a simple majority vote in the House is needed to start the impeachment process, as well as to determine whether the president is impeached. Here’s where the real excitement begins. The conviction of the president, however, can only happen in the Senate. At least two-thirds of the Senate – 67 members – must vote to convict the president, resulting in his removal from office.
So, while the House of Representatives has the power to impeach by passing what is known as “articles of impeachment”, it’s up to the Senate to ultimately remove the President or other official from office after holding a trial. Impeachment is not a legal trial, but a political trial, which is designed to enable officials to be punished for “special kinds of crime only people in the office could commit.”
Unfortunately for the Democrats, the Senate is controlled by the Republicans. Currently, the Senate has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents (who usually vote with the Democrats). Hence, the Democratic Party needs at least 20 Republican rebels to join their bandwagon, a wishful thinking that is as good as saying Saudi Arabia can win a war against Iran without any help from the U.S.
There has been no indication from the Republicans that they wanted to sack Donald Trump. In fact, they have argued that Democrats have been waiting for an excuse to impeach the President since he was elected back in 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that Democrats wish to “reverse” the 2016 election – after sore loser Hillary Clinton lost unexpectedly.
To give a view of how incredibly difficult it is to sack a president in America, considers the following facts. Despite the House of Representatives has initiated impeachment proceedings 62 times since 1789, only 19 federal officers were impeached and out of that number – only two Presidents have ever been impeached – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.
Heck, even then, neither President Johnson nor President Clinton was ultimately removed from office by the Senate. Both presidents were acquitted by the Senate instead. As a result of the Watergate scandal, an impeachment against President Richard Nixon was initiated but not completed as he resigned from office before the full House voted on the articles of impeachment.
In short, no president has been removed from office by impeachment and conviction. And there’s no reason to believe Trump would make history to become the first president to be sacked. Republicans won’t allow it to happen for obvious reason. But if the impeachment led to his removal from office, Vice President Mike Pence would serve out the remainder of his term – set to expire on 20 January, 2021.
Of course, the Democrat’s strategy could backfire spectacularly, especially when 60% of American voters were opposed to an impeachment proceeding. It would take a mountain of evidence to build public’s support to fire Trump, like the high-profile Watergate which hit Richard Nixon. Knowing Trump so far, he could easily use the impeachment drama to rally for support.
Like his “The Apprentice” television show, President Trump will most likely play the victim card, pointing to the impeachment process as proof of his accusation all this while that he is opposed at every turn to drain the Washington swamp.Now that he’s trying to investigate Biden for possibility of corruption, the Democrats moved for the nuclear option to terminate him – impeachment.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues might have taken the bait and swallowed the hook, line and sinker. Republicans will probably insist that any inquiry into the president must also include an investigation into what Mr. Biden’s son did in Ukraine and whether he got any help from his father. Refusal to be investigated will create a perception that Biden has something to hide while Trump has been abused.
The Democrats will be in deep shit if the congressional investigation into Ukraine – like the years-long inquiry into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia – finds no proof of explicitly illegal behaviour. Trump calls the impeachment the “Witch Hunt garbage.” Pelosi could pave the way to the Democrats’ ultimate nightmare – a second term for Trump on a silver platter.
– Finance Twitter