- And its possible outcomes
US President Donald Trump had only just dodged a bullet, avoiding being formally accused of obstruction of justice in the much anticipated and hugely anticlimactic and disappointing (for his opponents) Mueller Report on the Russian collusion scandal, that a new one has emerged. A whistleblower in the Trump Administration, reportedly a member of the National Security Council, in a letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Justice, raised serious concerns that President Trump in a phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged him to investigate Hunter Biden, son of the Democratic frontrunner for the 2020 presidential elections, Joe Biden. This constitutes an invitation to interference by a foreign country into US elections; exactly what President Trump had been accused of doing in the 2016 election through Russia. The offence is considered to fall within the amble of ‘high crimes and misdemeanours’, an impeachable offence. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Democrats have therefore finally initiated impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
Trump had withheld $400 million in an aid package to the Ukraine for the purpose of defence against Russia, prior to the call, suggesting there is an element of blackmail involved. The call itself was intentionally stored in a computer server reserved for highly sensitive materials proving how serious its contents were and pointing towards a deliberate attempt to bury them. Congress was also denied the transcript of the call at first when the scandal was first revealed. The complaint also mentions other members of the Trump Administration, including Attorney General Bill Barr who attempted to bury the Mueller Report while Kurt Volker, US special envoy to Ukraine, who is also mentioned in the report, resigned a day after the report was released. Impeachment is a lengthy and complex procedure and whereas the articles are drawn up in the House of Representatives, where the Democrats are in majority, Trump will most likely survive in the Republican run Senate where the trial is held. As elections get closer, President Trump is labelling the Ukraine problem as another witch hunt– a narrative that has worked with his voter base previously. In all likelihood this too may become another one of Trump’s many attacks on the US Constitution and democracy that he will get away with.