The Democratic members of Congress have begun the long and complicated journey toward the impeachment of President Donald Trump, following accusations against the president concerning the phone conversation he had last July 25. This was a conversation with the president of Ukraine, in which Trump asked him to investigate allegations of corruption against the son of his political opponent, Joe Biden. Some reports indicate that Trump intended to hold back millions of dollars in military assistance until Ukraine started the investigations.
This issue may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. This is true, especially because Trump has historically battled with many high officials, secretaries in his administration, his presidential team, as well as with sectors of government institutions – judiciary, foreign intelligence and others.
The truth is that Trump’s vulgar language and mood swings have led him into open conflict with governmental institutions and placed him in opposition to a broad spectrum of political opinion.
This is a genuine battle, far removed from any conspiracies or alleged coups against him, and it is taking place through methods that are legal and democratic. These differ from the illegal and undemocratic methods often employed by the United States in its foreign conflicts.
Trump’s personal and political battles are with the speaker of the House of Representatives and with influential figures who worked in the White House before him. He insulted the former director of the FBI and the former attorney general (whom he appointed), because they ran their institutions according to professional rules and practices, unfamiliar to Trump.
If American institutions are confined to the law in challenging Trump, Trump is similarly bound by the Constitution and the law in fighting back. Trump cannot bring down these systems or “flood them,” which is what happens in the third world, so that they merely fulfill the president’s orders. These are formal state state institutions; they are not partisan or beholden to administrations or presidents.
The proceedings that Congress has initiated will most likely not lead to Trump’s removal from office. They will begin with investigations from small committees that will focus on specific issues that may be related to impeachment, such as foreign affairs, financial actions or justice. Witnesses will provide testimony in public hearings. The president’s lawyer has the right to participate in these hearings.
If the committees conclude that the president should be charged, it will vote on articles of impeachment; the final decision on whether to remove the president will come from a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Republicans have 53 of the 100 seats in the Senate. The decision to remove the president therefore, requires nearly 20 Republican senators to go against their president, and so far there is no indication of that happening.
Democrats have chosen to weaken the president through these proceedings before the presidential election, because they probably will not be able to remove him from office. But will they actually weaken him before the presidential election, or will Trump play the victim and achieve an unexpected victory in the presidential election?
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