Trump’s moment of reckoning

Though impeachment gambit will put Trump under intense scrutiny, it also carries risks for Democrats because of scepticism within its ranks

AuthorPublished: 27th Sep 2019  12:15 amUpdated: 26th Sep 2019  11:19 pm

United States President Donald Trump relishes controversies, particularly if they happen to be his own making. And, he has been pretty consistent in creating controversies, which for any other world leader could be deeply embarrassing. However, the political storm over the impeachment inquiry, initiated against him by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, could prove to be the most challenging for his presidency. While the maverick Republican leader could escape impeachment in the case pertaining to the Russian intervention in the 2016 US Presidential election, a 30-minute call to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy has now proved to be a tipping point for the Democrats to launch the probe. The call records show that Trump prodded Zelenskiy to investigate corruption allegations against his Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son. If the impeachment move goes through, then he will become the fourth President in the history of America to face such a situation. Only two Presidents — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton — were actually impeached but not removed from office. Since the Senate is now controlled by Republicans and there are different interpretations on whether Trump’s call violated any law, the proceedings are unlikely to lead to his eventual impeachment. However, the development is bound to have a profound impact on the campaign for presidential elections next year. It could further polarise American politics. Though impeachment gambit will expose Trump’s recklessness and put him under intense scrutiny, it also carries risks for Democrats because of scepticism within its ranks.

While proposing the impeachment probe, the Speaker made out a strong case against Trump, saying his action of seeking a foreign leader’s help to target a political opponent amounted to undermining national security and violated the US Constitution. However, the inquiry, which the President dubbed as “witch hunt garbage”, could galvanise the Right to rally around him and help him score a political point in the campaigning. Despite a groundswell of support for impeachment, several Democrats remain unsure whether it is the best course of action available to them. Formal censuring, instead of impeaching, can be an option because several legal experts have suggested that the President may not have violated the letter of the law in this case. There is also an argument that impeachment would cleave the nation at an especially polarised moment and could possibly inflict long-term harm to the office of the Presidency. In many ways, the present charges against Trump echo the allegations he faced over his campaign’s contacts with Russia. Even after the release of a report by special counsel Robert Mueller outlining instances where Trump allegedly sought to obstruct justice, his Republican support base has not eroded despite his low public approval ratings.

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