InternationalVOLUME 15 ISSUE # 05

Trump’s goose cooked?

A possible impeachment threatens to cut US President Donald Trump’s term short by almost a year. It will also bulldoze his political career and efforts for a re-election in 2020. However, his sympathizers believe he will turn defence into offence; the attempt to topple him would backfire and raise his chances in the next election.

There are two ways of looking at Donald Trump’s astonishing response to the Democrats’ attempt to impeach him. Either Trump has finally lost the plot or else he has just guaranteed himself a stunning victory in next year’s presidential election. Whichever view is correct, both signal a rising sea of troubles for the US and the world, an article in the Guardian noted. “Suggestions that Trump has no idea what he’s doing were reinforced by some unhinged behaviour. His ranting about traitors, spies and low-life at a White House event was utterly bizarre, reviving claims that he is unfit for office,” it observed.

The impeachment inquiry is based largely on a whistleblower’s complaint that Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July 25 telephone call to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had business interests in Ukraine. Joe Biden, who was vice president during Barack Obama’s presidency, is a top contender for the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump in the November 2020 presidential election. Democrats claimed the US president had offered Zelensky the release of $400 million in aid to Ukraine in exchange for the investigation of Hunter Biden’s business dealings, which is against the law. The Democrats stated that Trump was using his office to seek help from a foreign state to gain advantage over his political rival. According to the law, that would be enough for Trump to be impeached, since his actions would be threatening US national interests. On the other hand, Trump denied putting pressure on the Ukrainian leader regarding Biden and asserted that the Democrats’ claims concerning the phone call were “made up”. Trump added that prior to his meeting with Zelensky, the US had already suspended aid to Ukraine and there was no link between the aid and Biden’s investigation. Trump argued that it was normal for him to raise the issue of Biden in the phone call and that he had spoken to the public many times on the issue as well.

Trump, who argued that there are serious allegations that the Biden family has made “unlawful” money in Ukraine, stated that it is, indeed, his duty to investigate corruption allegations against the family of a candidate running for president. The critical question here is this: Did Trump really ask for help from a foreign country to gain a trump card against one of his political rivals and make a decision that jeopardized the national security of the United States? Whether there is a connection between the release of the US aid and the Hunter Biden investigation is of utmost importance.

With the House investigating whether to impeach President Trump and have him face trial in the Senate, it’s worth considering whether Trump has the tools that have enabled other presidents facing the same threat to stay in office. The onslaught of stories – the summary of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president, the release of text messages about military aid for Ukraine, various statements by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and a televised statement by the president asking China to investigate Biden – seems to indicate a tough slog ahead from the impeachment inquiry, according to Fox News. Trump can be confident that his opponents won’t get the 67 votes in the Senate required to remove him from office as long as he retains the support of his Republican base. To do that, he needs to take a page from Reagan and Clinton. Trump’s base has historically been dominated by “working-class voters” – those without a college education. Do they stay with him or do they conclude that he tried to collude with the Ukraine? American political history is full of politicians who got into legal jeopardy but whose working-class supporters remained steadfast in their support.

While there are some signs the economy is slowing, so far it remains strong. As long as that continues, Trump can argue that he needs to stay in office. But will the public stay with him, the way voters backed Reagan and Clinton, or abandon him as they did with Nixon? On that score, the jury is still out. His job approval, despite a growing economy, has always hovered below 50 percent. A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 69 percent of Americans dislike Trump personally. Just 25 percent said they both liked him and approved of his policies.

But his support among Republicans on Capitol Hill remains strong. According to the latest Fox News poll, 89 percent of Republicans approve of the job he’s doing. So long as that continues, it’s doubtful many senators will publicly oppose him or risk a vote to remove him from office. Unable to defeat Trump with the Russian investigation, the Democrats chose to use the Ukrainian trump card they received with the complaint of a CIA informant.

American Professor Allan Lichtman is an interesting political historian who accurately predicted who would win the last nine presidential elections. Lichtman once stated that the Democrats cannot defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 elections unless they “move into an impeachment inquiry”.

Analysts say the Democrats have turned a trump card into an impeachment inquiry to hurt Trump before a presidential election that they already thought they had no more than a 50pc chance of winning. Trump will undoubtedly try to use the impeachment inquiry to his advantage, enhancing the sense of victimization his base feels, in efforts to re-mobilize the conservative Republican supporters from the 2016 election. Although Democrats may argue otherwise, the impeachment inquiry will backfire on them and help Trump win the 2020 elections.