Impeachment Inquiry Will Give Trump A 'Landslide Victory'
Donald Trump may be shrugging off impeachment talk over his call with Ukraine's president, with his campaign manager saying an inquiry will pave his way to a 2020 victory.
Donald Trump's campaign manager has slammed Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into the US president, saying she's the paved way for a "landslide victory" for Trump.
Pelosi announced plans to investigate Trump following reports that he pressured the Ukraine to investigate his political opponent Joe Biden.
"The president must be held accountable," Pelosi said.
"No one is above the law."
The announcement prompted Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale to hit back on Twitter saying the "Democrats have officially paved way for a @realDonaldTrump landslide victory."
Pelosi has faced mounting pressure to pursue the president's impeachment following accusations that Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter while withholding nearly $US400 million in military aid to the country.
Trump says the Democrats' questions about his phone call to Ukraine a "witch hunt", but he has admitted to talking about Biden and "corruption" in the July 25 phone call with Zelensky.
"We had a great conversation," the president said. "It was largely the fact that we don't want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine."
New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she believes the president has committed "several impeachable offences."
Why an impeachment inquiry now?
It's a story of money and power, energy and prosecutors, phone calls and favours, a president facing re-election and a former VP trying to get into the Oval Office himself.
In short, it's a mess and the final straw which prompted the Democratic Party to move for impeachment proceedings against Trump.
So what's going on here? Here's what you need to know.
Why is Trump's phone call under scrutiny?
Washington was set ablaze reports circulated that a whistleblower had raised concerns about something Trump said on a phone call with a foreign leader (Zelensky) and that the complaint came from someone in the U.S. intelligence community.
That the whistleblower was an intelligence officer gave the story extra spice, as such complaints against a sitting president are extraordinary and rare. The Intelligence Community Inspector General had found the whistleblower to be "credible", the New York Times reported.
The whistleblower complaint was meant to be handed to the U.S. Congress, but that was blocked, potentially because that ICIG is part of the executive branch of government -- overseen by the President himself.
It later developed that the phone call had been with the President of Ukraine, and that Trump allegedly asked for the country to open an investigation into Joe Biden and the business dealings of his son Hunter.
Biden, vice president to Barack Obama between 2008 and 2016, is a front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, and a true threat to Trump's re-election in the 2020 election -- so Trump's phone call could be seen as an attempt to smear a political opponent.
So what does Biden's son have to do with it?
Hunter Biden was formerly on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings.
Other people involved with the company were subject to allegations of corruption -- and Ukraine’s former prosecutor-general, Viktor Shokin had been investigating the company from 2015.
However, Shokin soon came under pressure from international leaders over his lack of success in addressing corruption in Ukraine, and various governments and organisations called for his removal from the position.
Among them was Biden, who told the Ukrainian government that unless they ousted Shokin, the U.S. would not guarantee loans to the country.
Shokin was later dismissed. Hunter Biden was not implicated in any wrongdoing.
What did Trump ask for?
It has been reported that Trump repeatedly asked Zelensky, during the July 25 phone call, to investigate Biden's involvement in Shokin's removal.
According to The Washington Post, Trump reportedly threatened to withhold $250 million in American aid to Ukraine unless Zelensky agreed.
Trump initially tried to deny he had done anything wrong, saying his call with Zelensky was "perfect" -- but soon changed tack, claiming someone was "spying" on his calls.
Hours before Pelosi announces the impeachment inquiry, Trump acknowledged he personally decided to withhold the millions in military aid to Ukraine, but insists it was not done as a way to pressure the country to investigate Biden or his son.
Earlier this week The Washington Post claimed that Trump's alleged behaviour amounted to an attempt to "extort" Ukraine for a political favour.
"This appears to be an overwhelming abuse of power," Biden said over the weekend, claiming Trump's behaviour was "outrageous".
Why is this bad?
There are two things going on here -- the phone call which has been described as "extortion" or "blackmail" by Trump critics and the blocking of the ICIG report to Congress, which has been described as an abuse of power.
Trump's alleged link to a foreign government helping him with favours and political dirt "would be troubling in the extreme", said Republican and former presidential rival, Mitt Romney.
But then to block the report from making its way to Congress, where it could be further investigated, would be against the law, according to Pelosi.
"If the president has done what has been alleged, then he is stepping into a dangerous minefield with serious repercussions for his administration and our democracy," she said.
So what happens now?
The Democrats have long been split on the call to commence proceedings of impeachment against Trump -- a formal censure motion that can potentially lead to a civil servant's removal from office -- but this morning things changed.
Pelosi was initially against the move, claiming it may alienate moderate voters who the Democrats need to win back to their side, but a group of Dems have been pushing publicly for Trump to be impeached and now she's joined the calls.
Impeachment can be considered for actions including "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours".
Pelosi is now reportedly more open to impeachment after the latest revelations. The chair of the House intelligence committee, Democrat Adam Schiff, said impeachment may be "the only remedy" for Trump's actions.
Hanging over all of this is the spectre of the November 2020 election, where Trump wants to hold office, and the Democrats want to take it from him. Impeachment may damage the Democrats' chances of winning and Trump's actions might lead to further damage to the reputation of Biden, the Democratic front-runner.
Stay tuned, this story isn't going anywhere.