Another attempt to remove Donald Trump from the presidency was made in Congress. What are the chances that it will be successful?
On Nov. 16, a group of Democrats introduced five articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. Rep. Steve Cohen (Tennessee), Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Illinois), Rep. Al Green (Texas) and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (New York) introduced the articles which accuse Trump of obstructing justice, undermining the independence of the federal judiciary, violating the Constitution by suppressing freedom of speech, inciting racial strife, and obtaining funds from foreign countries without Congressional approval. If the House of Representatives refuses to support the commencement of impeachment proceedings, members of the initiative group promised to hold regular briefings to clarify the abuses committed by the president.
There is little chance that the Democrats’ newest initiative will find support in Congress, due to the fact that the U.S. legislature is controlled by the Republican Party. However, according to Alexander Ermolenko, assistant professor at Kutafin Moscow State Law University,* the Democrats’ goal is not Trump’s immediate impeachment, but having an impact on the upcoming 2018 congressional elections.
"In order for the impeachment procedure to take place, the consent of two-thirds of the House of Representatives and the Senate is necessary. While it is controlled by Republicans, the Democrats have no chance to push the initiative. However, soon there will be elections and the composition of the House of Representatives and the Senate could change dramatically, " Ermolenko said.
According to Ermolenko, Trump's impeachment will be one of the main issues in congressional election campaigns. Democrats have already carried a number of legislative elections in several states over the course of this year (Iowa, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Florida). Democrats Phil Murphy and Ralph Northam won gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia. In a climate marked by a split within the Republican Party, whose members cannot yet come to a consensus on whether to support Trump as president or not, the probability of a Democrat winning in the upcoming Congressional elections is even more possible. "Typically, the advantage of one party over the other does not exceed 10 percent in the U.S. legislature. However, given the crisis conditions besetting the Republican Party, the Democrats may manage to overcome this threshold. If this happens, it will be possible to talk about the impeachment of the president as a real case scenario," Ermolenko said.
Impeachment talk began the moment Trump was elected. Protests took place in the U.S.
right after the votes were counted following the presidential election. Members of the Electoral College were urged not to cast their votes for Trump.
During the next couple of months, the U.S. political scene was shaken by several major scandals associated with Trump. Democrats accused Russia of interfering in the U.S. elections, and some politicians called Trump pro-Kremlin.
The first official attempt to start the impeachment proceeding was taken by Rep. Brad Sherman and Rep. Al Green in July. (Rep. Green is participating in the recent effort.) They accused Trump of obstructing justice during the investigation into links between the president and members of his campaign team and Russia. However, the House of Representatives refused to initiate proceedings at that time.
During the last month, several American billionaires have offered significant amounts of money for information that will lead to impeachment. For example, Larry Flynt, founder of Hustler magazine, promised to pay $10 million for such compromising material. Flynt asked people to send him any kind of information about Trump’s possible tax irregularities and about any “secret dealings with the Russians.” According to Hustler’s founder, Trump must be removed from office for his response to a march of ultra-right protesters in Charlottesville, his dismissal of FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating Russia's interference in the U.S. elections, for appointing incompetent politicians to positions of responsibility and for "complete ignorance of the world agenda."
“Impeachment would be a messy, contentious affair, but the alternative – three more years of destabilizing dysfunction – is worse,” Flynt told The Washington Post, in announcing the award for information.
An impeachment campaign is being supported by Tom Steyer, the billionaire founder of the investment company Farallon Capital. Steyer is a long-time supporter of the Democratic Party, and donated to the election campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. On Oct. 21, the billionaire tweeted a video message in which he announced the launch of a campaign to remove Trump from office. He said that the president "threatens the Constitution, freedom and lives of Americans." [ https://twitter.com/tomsteyer/status/921362150429376512?lang=en]
*Translator’s note: Kutafin Moscow State Law University is a public coeducational research university located in Moscow, Russia.