While embattled U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to be acquitted by the Republican-led Senate, it remains unknown whether the impeachment will harm or help his chances of re-election, experts have said.
This week saw the Democrat-ruled House vote to impeach, and now House leader Nancy Pelosi must choose a team of “impeachment managers” to argue her party’s case at a Senate trial. While the trial is expected to commence next month, Pelosi has already said she will delay sending the charges to the Republican-dominated Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has billed the Democrats’ case as unfounded, saying he wants a shorter trial. A Senate majority of two-thirds is required to remove the president from office — an unlikely outcome, as Republicans have a 53-seat majority.
The impeachment stems from what Democrats say was Trump’s threat to withhold aid to Ukraine in a bid to pressure Kiev to investigate the son of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a potential rival of Trump in the 2020 race. Biden’s son has had business dealings in Ukraine.
Democrats say this was tantamount to betraying the nation’s national security interests for the sake of Trump’s own political gains. They are charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Going forward, the impeachment could be a numbers game. Experts say McConnell has to make sure that there are no more than two Republican defections.
If three Republicans break, the deciding vote will come from the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, Clay Ramsay, a researcher at the University of Maryland, told Xinhua. And if four break, the Democrats win.
WILL IMPEACHMENT IMPACT 2020 ELECTIONS?
It remains unknown how the impeachment will impact the 2020 elections.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement after Wednesday’s House vote that history was “made today, but not in a way Democrats had hoped.”
“With this vote, Nancy Pelosi and her fellow impeachment crusaders have ensured the reelection of President Trump and a return of a Republican majority in the House,” she said.
In the opinion of Trump supporters — many of them rural, working class white people — the stakes are high. They strongly believe Trump is fighting against what they see as Washington elites — backed by mainstream media, urban liberals and runaway political correctness — who want to deprive them of their entire way of life, including their constitutional right to bear arms.
Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua that Trump’s base has worried “about the left wing taking over, and see Trump as working hard to stop the left. He has very strong support from his base and this will continue through the 2020 election.”
But at the same time, Trump will need more than his base to clinch the White House in 2020. “He will need suburban voters and independent people to cast their ballots for him,” West said.
Some experts say impeachment won’t make much of a difference in the 2020 elections.
“We’re at an extraordinary historical moment — this sort of impeachment has only happened twice before — and yet it’s unlikely that it will change anyone’s minds,” Christopher Galdieri, an assistant professor at Saint Anselm College, told Xinhua, adding that Trump’s best course of action would be to do nothing that would alienate any wavering Republican senators.
Still, the Republican National Committee announced record fundraising numbers on Thursday, taking in 20.6 million U.S. dollars in November, according to Federal Election Commission data. The GOP now has 63.2 million U.S. dollars in cash — a seven-year high.
Despite the impeachment, the House on Thursday passed the USMCA, an updated trade deal between the United States and its two largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico. This is considered as a victory for both Trump and the Democrats.
“Both parties will be under pressure from voters to show they are capable of functioning and conducting some of the nation’s business, despite impeachment,” Ramsay commented, adding “The U.S. public … wants key domestic issues attended to however impeachment comes out.”
Source: Xinhua – WASHINGTON
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