Trump is impeached again in historic vote. Now Republicans must decide the future of their party



Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Bryan Cranston, Swinburne University of Technology

In a historic vote today, Donald Trump became the only US president to be impeached twice.

By a margin of 232–197, the Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives voted to charge Trump with “inciting violence against the government of the United States” for his role in encouraging the insurrectionists who stormed the US Capitol last week.

When Trump was impeached by the House last year for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, no Republicans joined the Democrats in the vote.

This time, however, ten members of Trump’s own party supported the effort to remove him from office.

Is there any chance of conviction?

Now that the House has voted to impeach Trump, a trial will be held in the Senate, though the timing of this is unclear at the moment.

For Trump to be convicted, 67 senators need to vote in favour. If all 50 Democrats and independents vote to convict Trump as expected, then at least 17 Republicans would need to join them.




Read more:
Trump impeached a second time – but Trumpism will live on


So far, only three (Lisa Murkowski, Ben Sasse, and Pat Toomey) have indicated they would do so. Mitt Romney, a vocal Trump critic, will probably join them, and Susan Collins is a possibility.

Even though the most powerful Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, is said to be privately supporting the impeachment effort (and publicly said he hasn’t decided how he will vote), the numbers required to convict Trump will likely still fall short.

McConnell's vote will be crucial.
The future of the Republican Party may come down to how McConnell votes in the Senate trial.
Senate Television/AP

What’s at stake for Republicans?

Trump’s former national security advisor, John Bolton, has said the president “will be remembered as an aberration” when he leaves office after noon on January 20.

Nevertheless, the Republican Party will go on. And it will need to find its identify in the post-Trump era.

Do they continue with the arch-conservatism of the past decade that gave rise to the Tea Party and Trump, or do they return to the more traditional Republican politics associated with George W. Bush, John McCain and Romney?

While some Senate Republicans have loudly declared their allegiance to Trump, others appear to be suddenly on the fence.




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Lindsey Graham, who went from being one of Trump’s most outspoken opponents to his staunchest backer in Congress, last week broke with Trump over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. However, Graham is strongly opposed to impeachment.

McConnell, too, could be looking ahead to rebuilding the party post-Trump, which is why he is said to be wavering on his vote to convict Trump. As one Republican close to him told Axios,

If you’re McConnell, you want to be remembered for defending the Senate and the institution.

The most prominent Republican to join the impeachment effort in the House is Liz Cheney.

The daughter of former US Vice President Dick Cheney has only been in Congress since 2017. After just two years, however, she was elected chair of the House Republican Conference, the third-most senior Republican position in the House after minority leader (Kevin McCarthy) and minority whip (Steve Scalise).

A rising star in the party, Cheney surprised many when she said she wouldn’t run for the open Senate seat in Wyoming last year, opting to stay in the House.

With both McCarthy and Scalise voting against impeachment today, Cheney’s move suggests she is positioning herself as a leader of the anti-Trump faction in the party, with eyes on perhaps becoming the first female Republican House speaker.

Why purging Trump might not be possible

It must be noted that a significant portion of the American electorate still supports Trump and his policies. According to FiveThirtyEight, about 42% of Americans do not support impeachment. And among Republicans, just 15% say they want him removed from office.

Whoever leads the Republican Party post-Trump will need to consider how they will maintain the rabid support of his “base”, while working to regain more moderate voters who defected from the party in the 2020 election.

The reason McConnell is reportedly said to be considering voting to convict Trump is that is would make it easier to purge him from the party.




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‘Delighting in causing complete chaos’: what’s behind Trump supporters’ brazen storming of the Capitol


But purging Trump will be difficult. Even without Twitter, the power Trump wields is immense. The fear among many Republicans is that he can encourage primary challenges to any incumbents he feels have wronged him.

He’s done this many times before. In 2018, Trump strongly endorsed Brian Kemp in his successful campaign for governor of Georgia, but when Kemp rejected his claims of election fraud in November, Trump announced he was ashamed of having supported him. Trump loyalists are already looking for a primary challenger to him.

Trump has also called for primary challenges to Republican Ohio governor Mike Dewine and John Thune, the number two Republican in the Senate.

Security concerns among Trump’s supporters

Trump doesn’t appear to want to go away quietly, which is also a cause for concern from a security standpoint.

This week, a leaked internal FBI bulletin warned that armed protests are planned for all 50 states and Washington DC in the days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

Some state capitol buildings have begun boarding up their doors and windows, while 15,000 National Guard troops have been mobilised for deployment to the nation’s capital ahead of expected violence and unrest.

A member of the Pennsylvania Capitol Police
A member of the Pennsylvania Capitol Police stands guard at the entrance to the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg.
Jose F. Moreno/AP

This is an unfortunate sign of how many expect Trump’s supporters to respond to both his impeachment and Biden’s inauguration — even with Trump finally urging against further violence and unrest.

Most presidents aim to leave office with the nation better off than when they entered, but Trump’s legacy appears to be cementing a more divided country, where his brand of aggressive “conflict politics” may be the new norm.

This is a no-win situation for the country. And Republicans are still trying to figure out which side of history they want to be on.The Conversation

Bryan Cranston, Lead Academic Teacher – Politics & Social Science (Swinburne Online), Swinburne University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Impeaching Trump a second time is a complex and politically risky act. Here’s how it could wor



STRF/STAR MAX/IPx/AP

Markus Wagner, University of Wollongong

President Donald Trump is extremely unlikely to capitulate to pressure to resign in the final days of his presidency. And his Cabinet is equally unlikely to force him out by invoking the 25th amendment of the Constitution, despite calls from the Democrats to do so.

So, in the wake of last week’s insurrection at the US Capitol, which left five people dead and the Trump White House in free fall, the final option available to lawmakers who want to punish the president for his role in encouraging the rioters is impeachment. Again.

The House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment against Trump today for “inciting violence against the government of the United States”. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Democrats “will proceed” with impeachment proceedings this week if Vice President Mike Pence does not respond to a separate resolution calling for the Cabinet to invoke the 25th amendment.

This will no doubt be a complicated task in the waning days of the Trump presidency. No US president has faced impeachment twice. And there are many questions about how the process will play out, given Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the US in just nine days.

Pelosi says the House 'will proceed' with impeachment.
Pelosi says the House ‘will proceed’ with bringing legislation to impeach Trump to the floor this week.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Impeachment: a two-step process

This is how the impeachment process works under the Constitution. (Trump will be familiar with this since he’s already been through it before on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.)

Impeachment requires both chambers of Congress — the House of Representatives and the Senate — to act. The House has the “sole power of impeachment” for federal officials, and all that is required is a simple majority to initiate proceedings. The House essentially takes on the role of a prosecutor, deciding if the charges warrant impeachment and a trial.

The Senate is where the actual trial takes place. Under the Constitution, the chamber acts like a court, with senators considering evidence given by witnesses or any other form deemed suitable.

Impeachment managers appointed by the House “prosecute” the case before the Senate and the president can mount a defence. The chief justice of the Supreme Court acts as the presiding officer.

While these proceedings have many of the trappings of an actual court, it is important to bear in mind that impeachment is a political process.

Under the impeachment clause of the Constitution, a president may be removed from office “on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

This language has been the source of considerable debate, with some legal experts, like Trump’s first impeachment lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, arguing that impeachable offences are limited to actual crimes. Others (correctly) disagree.




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Conviction requires two-thirds of senators — a deliberately high threshold to prevent politically motivated impeachments from succeeding. No previous impeachment of a president has ever met this bar: Andrew Johnson (1868), Bill Clinton (1998) and Trump (2019) were all acquitted.

Even though some Republican senators have indicated they would vote in favour of impeachment — or at least be open to it — the number is likely nowhere near enough for conviction.

Complicating factors: time, shifting majorities and a difficult process

With only days left before Trump leaves office on January 20, time is of the essence.

The Constitution does not mandate any particular timeline for the proceedings to take place. Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated a Senate trial could not begin before January 19, as the Senate is in recess until then.

Moving that date up would require all 100 senators to agree — an unlikely prospect.




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‘Delighting in causing complete chaos’: what’s behind Trump supporters’ brazen storming of the Capitol


But this may not be an obstacle to starting the process. The Constitution is silent on the question of whether a Senate trial can be held after a president has left office. The 1876 impeachment of War Secretary William Belknap for graft after he left office may serve as precedent.

William Belknap was impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate.
Library of Congress

So, if the House votes to impeach Trump before January 20, a trial could theoretically happen after that date. The maths also change slightly in the Democrats’ favour on that day. The Democrats will take back control of the Senate, albeit on a 50-50 split with incoming Vice President Kamala Harris casting any tie-breaking vote.

Democrats are pushing for impeachment because the Constitution not only allows conviction, but also provides for barring Trump from holding federal office again. This would thwart his ambitions to run for president in 2024 — a prospect not lost on Republicans with the same goal.

The Constitution does not stipulate how many senators need to vote in favour of disqualifying an impeached official from holding office again, but the Senate has determined a simple majority would suffice. This tool has also been used sparingly in the past: disqualification has only occurred three times, and only for federal judges.

The bigger hurdle, however, is that it still requires Trump to first be convicted of impeachment by a two-thirds majority in the Senate.

Political implications of impeachment

Biden has remained lukewarm at best to suggestions of a Senate trial after January 20. Such proceedings would allow Trump to style himself a political martyr to his followers even more than is already the case.

This would distract from the critical goals Biden has for his first 100 days and beyond: tackling spiralling COVID infection numbers and the country’s lagging vaccination program, providing immediate financial relief to struggling families, rejoining international climate action efforts and repairing the damage done to the fabric of government by the Trump administration. Last, but not least, it would make confirmation of Biden’s Cabinet picks more difficult.

Achieving these goals while Trump sets off the political fireworks he so cherishes is implausible.

Biden says impeachment is for Congress to decide.
Biden has said impeachment is for Congress to decide.
Susan Walsh/AP

The Democrats have floated the idea of impeaching Trump before January 20, but not sending the article of impeachment to the Senate for trial until weeks later — or even longer — to give Biden a chance to get started on these initiatives. But a distraction is a distraction no matter when it happens.

Democrats would also do well to remember that political fortunes can change. It’s understandable to want to punish Trump for his actions, but
rushing into a political trial in the Senate, which Democrats are bound to lose, may have unintended consequences for the future.




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What’s to stop the Republicans from pursuing impeachments of future Democratic leaders they disagree with, even in the face of certain defeat in the Senate? This could poison the political atmosphere even further.

Democrats may also want to consider the fact that Trump could face federal charges for allegedly inciting the violence at the Capitol or state charges for urging Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat to Biden.

While this outcome is far from certain, the chances of conviction in a court of law would likely prove to be less toxic politically for both Democrats and Republicans alike.


This story has been updated to add Democrats formally introducing an article of impeachment on January 11.The Conversation

Markus Wagner, Associate Professor of Law, University of Wollongong

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Donald Trump has become the third president in US history to be impeached. He’s unlikely to be convicted


Brendon O’Connor, University of Sydney and Daniel Cooper, Griffith University

The US House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Donald Trump, making him the third president in the history of the United States to be impeached.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump.

The first stated that Trump committed an impeachable offence by withholding $391 million in military aid from the Ukraine until its government announced an investigation into the activities of Joe Biden, a potential political opponent of Trump’s in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.




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The article states the president “abused the powers of the Presidency,” “betrayed the nation,” and remains an ongoing “threat to national security and the Constitution”.

The second article is worded just as strongly. It claims that Trump obstructed due process in pressuring government agencies and officials to defy multiple subpoenas issued by the congressional committees established to investigate the president’s actions in relation to the Ukraine.

Referring to Trump, it states:

In the history of the Republic, no president has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate “high crimes and misdemeanours” – the Constitutional standard justifying the impeachment of a sitting president.

These are obviously very serious charges.

Prior to today’s vote, impeachment has only happened twice in American history – once in 1868 when President Andrew Johnson was impeached for firing a cabinet colleague, and again in 1998 when President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about and covering up his relationship with an intern, Monica Lewinsky. President Richard Nixon resigned before being formally impeached over his involvement in Watergate.

Impeachment is a political act. Conviction is unlikely

Legal debates about what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanours” are ever present in these types of proceedings. But impeachment is ultimately a political act.

It requires a majority in the House of Representatives to impeach and a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate (67 Senators) to convict.

Democrats control the 435 member House of Representatives with 232 sitting members, giving them a clear majority. Republicans control the Senate 53-45 (with two independents).

That makes the likelihood of achieving 67 votes required for a conviction unlikely.

So far, events are unfolding as many predicted. The house voted largely along party lines to impeach the president on both articles, which means a legal trial will now be held in the Senate starting in January.

Given the Republican majority in the Senate, it is hard to see the president being convicted. As a result, Trump’s impeachment is anti-climactic because justice is likely to be thwarted by partisanship.

Just as worrying, Trump has demonstrated that the more corrupt and mendacious the behaviour of a candidate and then president is, the lower the expectations the public and their party has for them. How long lasting this corruption of basic democratic standards will be is hard to tell.

What to expect in 2020

Events will move fast next year: the Senate trial will be completed within the first few months of 2020, which means the country’s attention will then shift to the presidential race. If, as expected, Trump survives in office, what matters then is the court of public opinion.

Republicans prefer a quick trial, as public opinion has not shifted against the president as Democrats hoped it would as more information was revealed.

According to a recent CNN poll, support for convicting and removing Trump from office stands at 45%, which is down from 50% in a poll conducted in mid-November. When it comes to registered Democrats, 77% support conviction, but this too is down from 90% recorded in November.

When it comes to the swing states that could decide the next presidential election, citizens are split, with 46% wanting removal and 45% opposed.

These numbers do not provide a great deal of guidance as to whether impeachment is going to help or hurt Trump’s re-election chances in 2020.




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Growing disengagement

One of the more troubling aspects to emerge from recent opinion polling is that there is a large minority of Americans who are disengaged from this whole process. Impeaching a president is a political act, but it is also the most serious action that can be taken against a sitting president.

As Richard Nixon put it, “People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.”

However, according to a new Washington-Post ABC News poll, while 62% of respondents said they were following events closely, 38% said they were either only paying modest attention, or not paying any attention at all.

This is troubling, for whatever one thinks about Trump’s policies, he is a populist president who sees democratic institutions as a hindrance to his rule.

When such a large minority expresses disinterest in his impeachment, it is a toxic mix of a leader eager to sideline democratic institutions and a large bloc of voters unable and unwilling to make a considered judgement on whether or not “their president is a crook.”

This, of course, may be symptomatic of the Trump era. One crisis – even one as grave as impeachment – is simply replaced by another crisis in due course, all of which, in more tranquil times, might have spelled the end of a presidency – but not so in the age of Trump.

It is as if the boundaries between right and wrong, between authoritarianism and democracy, between truth and lies, have become so blurred that citizens no longer know where to take their stand, or they simply retreat into a knee-jerk partisanship which no longer requires critical thought.

Next year will begin with the Senate trial of Trump. He will be most likely acquitted by the Republican majority.

Attention will then turn to the race for the White House. Trump’s approval numbers are not good, but they are salvageable. More twists and turns will surely follow impeachment proceedings. In the Trump era, we should expect nothing less.

Impeachment is not the end of the process for Trump.The Conversation

Brendon O’Connor, Associate Professor in American Politics at the United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney and Daniel Cooper, Lecturer, Griffith University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Trump’s bad Nixon imitation may cost him the presidency


President Richard Nixon, left, and President Donald Trump, right.
AP//Frank C. Curtin; REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Ken Hughes, University of Virginia

Whatever Donald Trump does, Richard Nixon usually did it first and better.

Nixon got a foreign government’s help to win a presidential election over 50 years ago. Trump’s imitation of the master has proven far from perfect, and that may cost him the presidency.

Trump’s first mistake was soliciting foreign interference personally. As a result, he cannot deny that he urged Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden. The proof is in his own White House’s record of their telephone call.

Nixon was a more cautious international conspirator, as I detailed in “Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair, and the Origins of Watergate.”

When Nixon solicited foreign interference on behalf of his presidential campaign, he was careful to use a cutout, a go-between whose clandestine activities could, if exposed, be plausibly denied. Anna Chennault, a conservative activist and Republican fundraiser, acted as Nixon’s secret back channel to the government of South Vietnam.

Nixon’s illegal interference with Vietnam peace talks helped win him the election. Here, he meets with President Lyndon Johnson in July 1968.
LBJ Library photo by Yoichi Okamoto

Playing politics with war

The Vietnam War was the biggest issue of the 1968 presidential campaign.

Nixon’s great hope was to hang Vietnam like an albatross on Democratic presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey, the sitting vice president. Nixon’s great fear was that President Lyndon Johnson would start peace talks before Election Day, boosting Humphrey’s campaign along with hopes for an end to the war.

Nixon’s fear was realized when Johnson announced peace talks in the campaign’s final week. Nixon watched his lead over Humphrey dwindle to nothingness.

So he turned to Chennault. She conveyed a secret message from Nixon to South Vietnam, urging it to boycott the peace talks. The South did just that only three days before the election, thereby destroying any hope for an imminent peace.

President Johnson learned of Chennault’s activities from the FBI and other sources, but he had no proof Nixon himself was involved. Nixon’s use of a cutout worked. She was burned, but he was not.

On the eve of the 1968 presidential election, President Johnson asked his three top advisers on the Vietnam War – Secretary of State Dean Rusk, National Security Adviser Walt Rostow and Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford – if he should expose Republican interference with his efforts to start begin peace talks.
AP/Bob Schutz

President Johnson discusses with three top advisers whether to expose Republican interference in the Vietnam peace process. They all advised the president not to do so.

False counter-accusations

It’s too late for Trump to use a cutout with Ukraine, but in other ways his actions mirror Nixon’s.

One recurring Nixonian tactic was to falsely claim the Democrats did things that were just as bad as the things he actually did. For example, Republicans charged that Johnson played politics with the war by announcing peace talks right before Election Day.

The diplomatic record proves otherwise. Johnson set three conditions for the peace talks months earlier. He offered to halt the bombing of North Vietnam if Hanoi: (1) respected the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Vietnam, (2) accepted South Vietnamese participation in peace talks, and (3) stopped shelling Southern cities.

Hanoi, however, insisted on an unconditional bombing halt. Johnson refused to budge. So did the North Vietnamese – until October 1968, when they accepted all three of Johnson’s conditions. The timing of the peace talks was their choice, not his. The partisan accusation was false.

Likewise, Republicans’ oftenrepeated, never-substantiated conspiracy theory that one or more Bidens did something corrupt involving Ukraine is the opposite of true. But it does shift the spotlight off Republicans and onto Democrats. And it fosters the false sense that “both sides do it” when only one side did.

Another of Nixon’s favorite tactics was to suggest there was something shady about detecting his crimes. Just as Trump baselessly claims that the Ukraine whistleblower got information about him “illegally,” Republicans like William Safire baselessly claimed that LBJ “abused the power of our intelligence agencies” to get dirt on Nixon.

Rudy Giuliani, left, was President Trump’s unofficial emissary to Ukrainian leaders, whom he wanted to dig up dirt on the Biden family.
AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The records of the CIA, NSA and FBI prove otherwise. Like presidents before and since, Johnson used the CIA and NSA to collect diplomatic intelligence. To provide him with Saigon’s true, private position on the peace talks, the CIA bugged the office of South Vietnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu and the NSA intercepted cables to Thieu from the South Vietnamese embassy in Washington, D.C.

Johnson did learn something about Chennault’s activities from this surveillance, but only because diplomatic intelligence is supposed to uncover attempts to thwart presidential diplomacy.

Based on what he learned, Johnson ordered the FBI to tail Chennault and tap the South Vietnamese embassy’s phone. Mere days later, the FBI wiretap overheard Chennault telling the South Vietnamese on behalf of “her boss (not further identified)” to “hold on, we are gonna win.”

Here was evidence that the Nixon campaign was violating the Logan Act – which forbids private U.S. citizens from conducting “any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government” – by undermining the president’s diplomatic efforts to end a war that was killing hundreds of Americans every week.

In other words, Johnson used the FBI to uncover a crime that was also a threat to national security.

That’s not an abuse of the FBI. It’s why the FBI exists.

Clearly, there’s one thing that can overcome Nixonian tactics: evidence. For this reason, House impeachment investigators will likely subpoena as much as they can, and President Trump will likely withhold as much as he can.

Withholding evidence is yet another Nixonian tactic, one called “stonewalling.” It was the basis of the final article of impeachment against him.

[ Insight, in your inbox each day. You can get it with The Conversation’s email newsletter. ]The Conversation

Ken Hughes, Research Specialist, the Miller Center, University of Virginia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

How the impeachment inquiry might affect Trump’s 2020 re-election chances



As the impeachment inquiry gathers pace in the US, Donald Trump is likely to keep doubling down on his opponents.
AAP/EPA/Chris Kleponis

Dennis Altman, La Trobe University

The next 13 months will see American politics completely dominated by the fate of Donald Trump. As the House of Representatives moves towards impeaching him, leading to a hearing which then moves to the Senate, the Democrats will be engaged in an increasingly bitter contest for the nomination to run against Trump in the November 2020 elections.

At this stage, it appears there are the numbers in the house for impeachment, which entails formally charging the president with “high crimes and misdemeanors”. Their indictment then moves to the Senate, which can remove the president by a two-thirds majority, in a hearing chaired by the chief justice.

Because 2020 is an election year, both sides will manage proceedings with an eye to the November poll. It is possible the house will vote before the end of the year: the decision to impeach Bill Clinton for lying under oath was made in the last three months of 1998.




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Clinton was cleared by the Senate by the following February, so it is also possible the Senate will hold its own proceedings before most of the presidential primaries commence. It takes two-thirds of the Senate to remove a president from office, which has never happened.

While several Republican house representatives have expressed concern about the president’s behaviour, the overwhelming majority of Republican politicians are either supporting him or remaining silent.

Rather as Boris Johnston seems to have captured the British Conservative Party, so Trump has imposed himself on the Republicans. Those who three years ago assailed his unfitness for the presidency, such as Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz, are now his loudest defenders. Meanwhile, several of his opponents are withdrawing from political office.

However, Senator Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for president in 2012, has indicated his disquiet, which is almost certainly shared by others. If the house uncovers more apparently illegal activity on Trump, and if public opinion seems to be turning against the president, there are several other senators who may follow, if only to preserve their own positions. Republican senators are facing re-election in states such as Colorado, Iowa, Maine and North Carolina, where they are increasingly vulnerable.

There is an odd historical parallel with the history of Senator Joe McCarthy, who led increasingly virulent anti-Communist crusades in the early 1950s and whose protégé, Roy Cohn, in turn influenced Trump.

Eventually, Republican senators turned on McCarthy, and censured but did not expel him. But this happened only once it was clear that public support for McCarthy was collapsing, which is so far not evident for Trump.

Faced with possible impeachment and loss of support, Richard Nixon resigned. It is difficult to see Trump doing this – it is more likely he will become even more irrational and vengeful as the process winds on. Right-wing media will echo the president’s claim that the impeachment hearings represent treason, with real danger of violent clashes between supporters and opponents of Trump.

For the Democrats, the best outcome would be a split within Republican ranks, which leaves Trump in office but weakened and vulnerable to a challenge for re-nomination. Removing Trump would place Vice President Mike Pence in office, and presumably ensured of nomination in 2020.

The dilemma for the Democrats is that the impeachment process will dominate the news cycle as they jockey for position going into next year’s long battle for the presidential nomination. Trump will use the allegations to focus attention on former Vice President Joe Biden, whose son’s business dealings in Ukraine triggered the impeachment inquiry.

Biden may hope this will allow him to emerge as the injured defender of political propriety, but he will be tarnished through guilt by association, and is likely to slip further in the polls. Biden represents some of the traditional working class and African American base of the Democratic Party, and how they react could determine the ultimate Democrat candidate.

At the moment, Elizabeth Warren challenges Biden’s lead in the polls, with Bernie Sanders the only other candidate consistently supported by more than 10% of Democrats. None of the others in a crowded field — 12 have qualified to take part in the next televised Democratic debate — have much support, and they will start to drop out once the primary season begins in February 2020.




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In the Democrats’ bitter race to find a candidate to beat Trump, might Elizabeth Warren hold the key?


If Biden continues to lose support, there is room for someone to emerge as the moderate front-runner, given that both Warren and Sanders represent the more radical instincts of the party. This is presumably why so many candidates are determined to continue campaigning, even when some of them rarely muster 2% in the polls.

Were Sanders’ current health problems to lead to his withdrawal most of his support would presumably switch to Warren. Predictions are risky, and my record is poor. But it is increasingly likely that the Democrats will nominate someone other than an old white man in 2020, betting on a figure like Barack Obama who can galvanise a bitterly divided nation and persuade people to turn out and vote.The Conversation

Dennis Altman, Professorial Fellow in Human Security, La Trobe University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Warren placed second after Biden, as Trump’s ratings rise. But could the impeachment scandal make a difference?


Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

Two weeks after the September 12 Democratic presidential debate, Joe Biden continues to lead with 29.0% in the RealClearPolitics Democratic national average, followed by Elizabeth Warren at 21.4%, Bernie Sanders at 17.3%, Pete Buttigieg at 5.8% and Kamala Harris at 5.0%.

No other Democrat candidates have more than 3% support. And the last three polls average to a tie between Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.

Since the debate, there have been gains for Biden, Warren and Buttigieg, and a continued slump for Harris. After the first debate on June 26 to 27, Harris surged from about 7% to 15%. Now, she has lost all that support and can no longer be considered a top-tier candidate.




Read more:
US Democratic presidential primaries: Biden leading, followed by Sanders, Warren, Harris; and will Trump be beaten?


The contests that will select the Democratic presidential candidate will be held between February and June 2020, with four states permitted to hold contests in February.

Iowa (February 3) and New Hampshire (February 11) are the first two states, so doing well in one of them is important. To win any delegates, candidates need at least 15% in a particular state or congressional district.

There have been three Iowa polls conducted since the debate, including one by the highly regarded Selzer poll. The RealClearPolitics average shows Warren surging into the Iowa lead with 23.0%, followed by Biden at 20.3%, Sanders 12.0%, Buttigieg 11.3% and Harris 5.3%. The one post-debate poll in New Hampshire also has Warren leading with 27%, followed by Biden at 25%, Sanders 12% and Buttigieg 10%.

Biden is disadvantaged in Iowa and New Hampshire because these states’ populations are almost all white. CNN analyst Harry Enten says Biden’s strongest support comes from black voters.




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In the Democrats’ bitter race to find a candidate to beat Trump, might Elizabeth Warren hold the key?


In South Carolina, where black voters made up 61% of the 2016 Democratic primary electorate according to exit polls, Biden leads by over 20 points, though none of those polls were taken since the debate. South Carolina votes on February 29.

The next Democratic debate will be on October 14, with the same rules for participation as in the September debate. At least two more candidates will qualify, and this will mean a two-night debate with the 12 candidates split over these nights. The participation threshold has been increased for November and further debates.

Trump’s ratings rise, likely due to the economy

In the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate, Donald Trump’s ratings are currently 42.9% approve, 52.8% disapprove (that equates to a net -9.9%) with all polls.




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With polls of registered or likely voters, his ratings are 43.8% approve, 52.1% disapprove (net -8.3%). Trump’s approval has not been higher since November 2018. But since my September 5 article on the polls, Trump’s net approval has risen about three points.

In August, there were prominent predictions of a recession, and the Dow Jones tanked. In September, there has been far less recession talk, and the Dow recovered its August losses. The economy likely explains the recovery in Trump’s ratings.

Will Trump’s ratings take damage from the impeachment controversy?

On September 24, Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry over allegations Trump attempted to get incriminating material on Biden from the Ukraine, including by threatening to withhold funds.

The next day, a White House memo of Trump’s phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy showed Trump asked for “a favour”, and for Zelenskiy to “look into” Biden.

I do not believe this affair will do lasting or serious damage to Trump’s ratings: the better-educated voters already detest him, and the lower-educated will be far more concerned with the economy.

Removing a president from office requires a majority in the House and a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Democrats control the House, but Republicans have a 53-47 Senate majority. So there is very little chance of Trump being removed before the November 2020 election.

In RealClearPolitics averages, Trump trails Biden by 7.7 points (9.9 points in my September 5 article). He trails Warren by 4.0 (4.1 previously) and Sanders by 4.8 (6.0).

Biden’s electability argument is enhanced by these figures. The pro-Trump Rasmussen polling company showed Trump leading Biden by four, but did not poll other match-ups. Without this Rasmussen poll, Biden would be placed 10.0 points ahead.

Why is Biden doing much better against Trump than other Democrats?

I think a key reason is he sometimes says things that are not politically correct, which the media construe as gaffes.

But those with a lower level of education are very dubious about the values of the “inner city elites”. Saying things the elite disagree with probably makes some Trump 2016 voters more comfortable supporting Biden than Warren.

There have been four major upsets in the US, UK and Australia in the last three years: the June 2016 Brexit referendum, Trump’s November 2016 victory, the UK Labour surge that produced the current hung parliament in June 2017, and the Australian Coalition’s triumph in May 2019.

My theory is the Remain campaign, Hillary Clinton and Australian Labor performed worse than expected because they were all seen as too close to the “inner city elites”.

In contrast, UK Labour adopted a pro-Brexit position before the 2017 election, and this assisted them as they were not seen as serving elite opinion.

To win elections, perhaps the left needs to break free of elite opinion in ways that do not compromise its core agenda.

UK Supreme Court rules prorogation unlawful

On September 24, the UK Supreme Court – the highest UK court – ruled the prorogation of parliament was illegal. The House of Commons resumed sitting the next day. Had parliament still been prorogued, the Commons would not have sat until October 14.

With both parliament and the courts hostile to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, it is unlikely he can deliver Brexit by October 31 as he has promised.

As I wrote for The Poll Bludger in mid-September, parliament bears a large portion of responsibility for the Brexit shambles as it can only agree to procrastinate. It cannot agree to any method to resolve Brexit.

Israel, Austria, Portugal, Poland and Canada elections

I recently wrote for The Poll Bludger about the September 17 Israeli election results and said it is unlikely anyone can form a government. I also wrote about upcoming elections in Austria (September 29), Portugal (October 6), Poland (October 13) and Canada (October 21).
All these countries except Canada use proportional representation, while Canada uses first-past-the-post after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wimped on electoral reform after winning the October 2015 election.

Australian Newspoll: 51-49 to Coalition

In the last Newspoll, conducted September 5-8 from a sample of 1,660, the Coalition led by 51-49, unchanged since mid-August.

Primary votes were 43% Coalition (up one), 35% Labor (up one), 12% Greens (up one and their best in Newspoll since March 2016) and 5% One Nation (up one).

Scott Morrison’s net approval was +10, up four points, while Anthony Albanese slumped into negative net approval at -5, down 12 points. Morrison led as better PM by 48-28 (48-30 previously). Figures from The Poll Bludger.The Conversation

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.