GP Insights

GP Insights # 205, 21 December 2019

The House of Representatives impeach Trump in the US
Parikshith Pradeep

What happened?

On 18 December, the House of Representatives voted in favour of impeaching in President Trump with a 230-197. The House charged the President on abuse of power and obstruction of justice. It comes in the aftermath of the Trump-Ukraine scandal, creating an uproar among Democrats who have been at the forefront of anti-Trump campaigns. 

What is the background?

This comes after the US Judiciary House Committee voted 23-17 pushing for a full vote in the House of Representatives; this comes after the Speaker's announcement for formal inquiry in September.

Trump is the third president to be impeached after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Efforts to impeach Trump have been an ongoing affair since 2017 when two democrats attempted to introduce resolutions. However, the Republican control over both the houses yielded little progress. 

His impeachment comes in the aftermath of Trump-Zelensky controversy. Trump is alleged to have persuaded his Ukraine counterpart to probe the Democratic candidate Joe Biden and his son. On the other hand, Trump is said to have blocked a military aid that was congressionally mandated. While Trump's lawyer, Rudy Guiliani has called for Biden's investigation since early 2019, reports suggest the President pushed for Guiliani's involvement in assisting Zelensky. Also, the transcripts also suggest his attempts to influence his Ukranian counterpart in changing the narrative on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

What does it mean?

On the national side, Trump's impeachment has no legal implications unless the Senate votes him out, impacting his popular support. On a broader note, it could cause a divide in the Republican voter base, but a strong assertion of the same could be an overstatement. However, the 53-45 Republican majority in the Senate seems unlikely to unseat Trump leaving ample space for political speculation.

Second, his policy decisions have caused large scale divisions. However, it may prove wrong to discredit his domestic policies, essentially pushing for a distinction between administrative reflections on Trump and that of people. The media must take a note on these reflections and tread rationally.

Third, the Democrat's urgency to hamper Republican leadership could be counter-productive, tarnishing the legitimacy of non-Trump supporters. While the Ukraine controversy is a silver baton with the Democrats, their attempts to unseat Trump has not boded well, a trend that has widely been visible.

Fourth, as Trump's impeachment is set to reach the Senate, Pelosi has not been quick in this transition threatening a slowdown. An interesting peek is the increasing Republican majority in the Senate from 2017 as contrary to the other House.

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