Trump’s impeachment probe jolts US politics

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/13 21:33:41

Photo: IC

The election of US President Donald Trump in 2016 has deepened the rift in US politics. The formal impeachment inquiry against Trump launched by the US House of Representatives on September 24 will undoubtedly add to the fierce political competition in the country.

The Democratic Party wishes to dig out the truth through the impeachment inquiry. But it doesn't rule out the possibility that many Democrats would try to weaken the Republican Party's grip on power by using impeachment, with an eye on the presidential election in 2020. In this context, the impeachment inquiry will continue while the Republican Party keeps fighting back. The clash will last and the high tide could surge during the 2020 US elections, especially between August and October 2020, as both sides wish to seek the best results after putting in efforts. 

According to the impeachment process, the US Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans, will finally hold a vote to convict the president. Republicans now take 53 seats in the Senate, while Democrats need at least two-thirds of the Senate - 67 votes to convict and remove Trump from office. If the committees involved in investigating Trump could dig out sufficient evidence, some Republicans in the Senate may change loyalties during the vote. The number of Republicans changing sides would determine the result.

Whether Trump is eventually removed from office or not, the impeachment inquiry is most important in this political wrangling and will to a larger extent affect the elections in 2020. In fact, the process is what the two parties are focusing on.

Half of the voters support impeachment, according to a latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. Some other polls showed that Americans are more divided on whether Trump should be removed from office. We have to say the US is deeply divided in politics, society and among different ethnic groups. The election of Trump was a reflection of this split in various ways, and he has further divided the country.

The US is facing severe governance problems as currently and in the long run, the two political parties will have irreconcilable disputes over domestic and foreign affairs.

The White House released on September 25 records of the July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. During their conversation, Trump called Marie Yovanovitch, former US ambassador to Ukraine, "bad news." Trump continued that "she's going to go through some things." The call between Trump and Zelensky lent "further credence to the claim that Yovanovitch's removal from her post last May was politically motivated," according to a CNN report. 

Trump's foreign policy is capricious and reckless, ignores diplomatic protocol, roadmap and practices of the US government. He has severely damaged the credibility of US foreign policy around the world. 

Trump's reckless diplomacy demands foreign leaders be extra careful while talking to him, as anything they have discussed could be revealed due to the complicated nature of US politics and thus put them in a dilemma. Zelensky is stuck in such a predicament. 

After the impeachment process grabbed headlines, some analysts said the investigation could give Trump a chance to pretend to be a victim of politics and thus gain more support from voters and even win the reelection. Such a view is wishful thinking. 

The impeachment inquiry aims at uncovering the dark side of its subject. As long as Trump ever violated regulations and laws, the investigation will expose them. For the moment, it seems the investigation is likely to lead to the stigmatization of Trump and intensify political competition. 

Whether the outcome of the inquiry is really against Trump or made to appear to be so for political reasons, it will definitely have an impact on him. As the impeachment probe is undoubtedly politically motivated, it is unlikely that Trump will be able to figure a way out, a way of pretending to be innocent. 

The inquiry and its result - the so-called truth - will ultimately make the political atmosphere more poisonous and further divide Americans. While Trump supporters would believe he has been persecuted, those against him would more vociferously demand that he be punished. This is where the impeachment would end up, and that's it. 

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Xu Hailin based on an interview with Li Haidong, a professor with the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University.

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