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International 17 Jan, 2020 Follow News



"Donald J. Trump has abused the powers of the presidency…”

"In the history of the Republic, no president has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate 'high crimes and misdemeanours...”

Those extracts from the resolution impeaching President Donald Trump could come to define his legacy and presidency whether or not he is found guilty and thrown out of office, or he survives the impeachment and even goes on to win this year’s presidential election.

Being found guilty is a legal possibility, but the attention is focused on the political possibility of his acquittal and the likelihood in that case of him going on to win a second term.

Under normal circumstances, it would have been fairly accurate to say that the noose is tightening around President Donald Trump over the very serious allegations of ‘high crime and misdemeanours’ that have led to his impeachment.

But these are anything but normal circumstances and politics may well trump the legal process such as it is.

Mr Trump is accused of abusing his power by withholding Congress-approved military aid to Ukraine for his political gain.

He is also accused of obstructing Congress in its investigation of his actions in the matter.

On the surface, the dossier of evidence against President Trump appears not just impressive but quite damning.

The allegations are based on Mr Trump’s involvement, knowledge of, or influence through those acting on his behalf, to withhold US $391 million in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for information on business dealings involving the son of Democratic presidential candidate, former vice-president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Biden Jr has business interests in Ukraine.

Mr Trump also stands accused of putting pressure on the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, during a telephone conversation last July to launch the probe into the Bidens.

The US president, who has become only the third American head of state to be impeached, vehemently denies all of the allegations against him.

But as the process takes hold and the volume of information spirals, Mr Trump's refutations, while not muted, have taken on a tone oscillating somewhere between desperation, resignation and foreboding.

In a matter of hours one of the key players on Mr Trump’s personal legal team ‘spilled the beans’ in a series of bombshell media interviews directly implicating the president in what some are now referring to as ‘Ukrainegate’.

The term is a reference to the Watergate scandal involving former president Richard Nixon who resigned just before he was formally impeached.

Since then the ’gate’ suffix has become the standard media label for investigations into allegations of serious misconduct in high office, especially in American politics.

Mr Trump’s repeated denials - including not knowing people whom subsequent evidence seems to suggest otherwise, and claims of a witch-hunt by his political opponents only for new information to emerge - appear to be sounding less and less convincing.

And even before the first witness is called, the US Government Accountability Office on Thursday concluded in a report that the Trump administration “broke the law” by withholding the Congress-approved military aid to Ukraine.

Ukraine itself has now launched an investigation into whether the former US ambassador assigned there was being spied on by American interests acting on behalf of President Trump - with or without the president's knowledge.

Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch was a key witness in the process leading up to Mr Trump's impeachment.

While the impeachment hearing is a legal process, the fact that it will be carried out by the Republican-controlled Senate is being viewed by Democrats and others as being vulnerable to political machinations.

Several Senators are on record questioning the basis for the impeachment.

Conviction requires a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate.

By the same token, pushing through the impeachment by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is viewed by many Republicans and others who support the president as a witch-hunt, Mr Trump's favourite term to describe the impeachment.

This latest drama in the Trump’s presidency as he steps up his bid for a second term in what is already shaping up as a tough campaign for November's presidential election.

And, it could very well be that Mr Trumps faces off against his arch nemesis in the race, former vice-president Joe Biden, around whom the Ukraine misdemeanour allegations against President Trump revolve.

Mr Trump's presidency has without question being the most controversial and scandal-ridden in modern US history.

Yet, he has bulldozed his way through with slight regard for established norms, doubling down on his denials and trying to focus attention on his what he considers his ‘record-breaking’ record of achievements.

Although many of the president's claims struggle to stand up under the glaring light of scrutiny, his base of support remains solid.

Latest polls show that America is still divided over their temperamental president.

The impeachment might be another act in this Trumpian version of a Shakespearean drama…but Shakesperean dramas are known to be the bearers of timeless moral messages irrespective of how the story ends.

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