Under the Constitution, a president can be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.
Action from the lower house of Congress
By Roger Childs
Donald Trump is probably the worst president in American history. He has certainly moved Warren Harding and George W Bush up from the cellar. Never before has the United States had a leader who is characterised by his persistent lying, swaggering arrogance, serial abuse, blatant nepotism, and in Joe Bennett’s colourful phrase – malignant narcissism.
The lengthy Robert Mueller investigation into the possible collaboration between the 2016 Trump campaign team and Russia came close to finding a case for impeachment on the grounds of using a foreign country to aid their cause in the presidential elections. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has resisted demands from fellow Democrats for some time to set in motion an investigation into proceeding with impeachment of the president, but has now started the process.
Pressurizing the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a political rival, may be the straw that breaks the Trump camel’s back.
The Ukranian affair
In mid July Trump ordered a freeze on some military aid to the Ukraine. A few days later on July 25, he phoned Zelensky and sought potentially damaging material on his main Democrat rival for the 2020 election, Joe Biden, related to the activities of his son Hunter who served on the board of the Ukranian natural gas company Burisma.
Hunter Biden, a lawyer by trade, was one of a number of foreigners on the board and he helped Burisma work through a labyrinth of multi-national regulations. Trump offered the Ukrainian President the assistance of Attorney General William Barr, and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Last week, Giuliani admitted on television that he had urged the Ukrainian government to investigate 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. It was also revealed by The Wall Street Journal that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among the administration officials who listened in on the controversial July 25th phone call.
A White House official, commenting on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that a transcript of the crucial phone call had been buried in the National Security Council’s highly classified system.
It has also come to light recently that Trump had asked Australian prime minster Scott Morrison to help in discrediting the Mueller investigation and pressure went on the Italian government too.
The news about the Ukrainian case was leaked by a CIA whistleblower who remains anonymous. Trump is dying to find out his/her identity. Shades of “Deep Throat” in the Watergate Affair that eventually saw Richard Nixon resign from the presidency.
Impeachment investigations proceeding
I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. US ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor on September 9 2019
The House Intelligence Committee has so far interviewed
- Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who was dismissed by Trump.
- Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, who recently resigned.
- Michael Atkinson, the intelligence inspector general.
- And earlier this week, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor.
Trump had described his phone call to Zelensky as perfect and denies any wrong doing. However, evidence of Taylor’s concerns is damning.
Text messages released by House committees show Taylor repeatedly questioned the decision to hold up millions of dollars in funding to Ukraine as part of a potential quid pro quo aimed at pressuring Ukraine to investigate Trump’s rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Democracy Now! Wednesday 23 October 2019
If the House, which has a Democrat majority, charges the president with impeachment, it then moves to the Senate where the Republicans have the majority.
What price party loyalty?
Republicans in the two Houses of Congress have long stood by Trump despite his bullying, abusive behaviour and his many abuse of presidential power.
However, these supporters must now be very concerned. The Ukraine investigation is very serious and public opinion polls show that a majority favours impeachment proceeding. This survey from a defense lawyer in Arizona showed that over 25% of people who are Republican felt the process should continue. A number of Republican Senators are up for re-election next year and they will be worried that Trump’s unpopularity could damage their chances.
A recent poll shows that the level of support for Trump has dropped to a low of 36%.
Back in late September, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican Senator for Kentucky) told CNBC the Senate would have no choice but to take up Trump’s impeachment if the House charges the president.
Nancy Pelosi has urged all politicians to put the nation before their party and a number of Republican Congressmen and Senators may be considering that proposition seriously.
This rapidly moving impeachment process may be the countdown to Trump’s demise.
Meanwhile the president continues to lash out at his critics on Twitter. Trump warned of a growing number of Republican critics and tweeted – Watch out for them, they are human scum!