Things can change quickly in the U.S. political landscape. It was only a couple of days ago that President Donald Trump was complaining that he deserves the Nobel Prize, but what he got was a formal impeachment inquiry that sent the markets packing.
It hasn’t taken long for Trump’s mood to swing from bright and sunny to dark and gloomy. The U.S. President would have been in high spirits when the week began, thanks to an “informal” launch of his re-election campaign by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
But he is now in the dock as Trump is believed to have taken the help of another foreign government to help his chances at a re-election in 2020 in an unconstitutional manner.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has initiated impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. Pelosi initiated the proceedings after Trump revealed that he had delayed releasing military aid worth nearly $400 million to Ukraine.
The step was taken prior to a call with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Donald Trump reportedly pressed the former to investigate the Democratic presidential front runner and his son for potential wrongdoing. Pelosi believes that President Trump has violated the Constitution with this move to undermine his political opponent with the help of a foreign government.
The bad news for Donald Trump is that a substantial number of house members believe that the President did the wrong thing and are supporting his impeachment.
Trump is putting up a brave face. He says that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already received permission from the government of Ukraine to release the transcript of the telephone call that’s at the center of this storm. Trump also tweeted that he has authorized the release of the “complete, fully declassified, and unredacted” transcript of his conversation.
Not surprisingly, President Trump and his supporters believe that this is another witch hunt launched against him.
The release of the call transcript and its contents gain vital importance at this time because Trump seems to have some support on the other side of the aisle.
CNN reports that of the 235 Democrats in the House, 196 are currently supporting the start of the impeachment enquiry. If Trump manages to quell the storm in the bud by releasing the transcript and prove that he has actually done no wrong, the impeachment proceedings could hit a roadblock.
Trump says that he withheld the aid to ratchet up the pressure on other European countries to provide aid to Ukraine. He also clarified that the aid was eventually delivered by the U.S. and the withholding was unrelated to Biden. BBC quotes Trump as saying:
We’re putting up the bulk of the money, and I’m asking why is that?” he said, adding: “What I want, and I insist on it, is that Europe has to put up money for Ukraine also.
And then Trump went on to clarify that he did indeed put pressure on his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Biden.
But there was pressure put on with respect to Joe Biden. What Joe Biden did for his son, that’s something they should be looking at.
As it turns out, there is no evidence against Joe Biden or his son Hunter with respect to any wrongdoing, and Trump himself didn’t get into any specifics. So the transcript of the call gains paramount importance in the current scenario, with Democratic Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard thinking on the same lines when she told CNN in an interview:
Look, my position remains the same. I think impeachment would be terribly divisive for our already very divided country,” Gabbard said in an interview with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin. “I think Congress needs to exercise oversight over the information that’s been leaked. I think it’s important this transcript is released to Congress so that Congress can do its job.
If it becomes evident that President Trump was looking to gain favors from a foreign country to undermine his political opponent in exchange for aid, then the House Democrats will go for the kill and might launch an impeachment enquiry, which is the first crucial step in the impeachment process.
But if Trump manages to prove that he was not acting in bad faith, then the House Democrats’ calls for impeachment will die their natural death.
This article was edited by Samburaj Das.