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Could impeachment benefit Donald Trump? | The Economist


It all started with a phone call in July. President Donald Trump spoke to the newly elected president of Ukraine Vladimir Zelinsky's phone call with the president of Ukraine. But the transcript of that phone call reveals that Mr. Trump put pressure on Mr. Zelinsky to investigate. Hunter Biden and his father Joe Biden the potential Democratic nominee for the 2020 presidential election.

The gist of the accusation from Democrats against Donald Trump is that he's essentially both abused his office and betrayed the national interest by putting pressure on Ukraine's president to investigate a political rival and that President Trump withheld military aid vital military aid for an American ally until the president of Ukraine did what he wanted. The Democrats are hoping the current impeachment proceedings will help to reduce support for Donald Trump. But


Could they do the opposite?


Many will come to order. Good morning everyone. Right now hearings are being held in the House of Representatives where the Democrats have a majority.

It seems fairly clear that the House will vote to impeach President Trump. That point the trial will move to the Senate in order to remove a president and a Senate trial you need a two-thirds majority so you'd have to get all the Democrats plus about 20 Republicans if you get into the polling on impeachment and removal. Republicans do not want Donald Trump rampaged or removed. So it's very hard to see lots of senators lots of Republican senators voting to convict him when their own voters are so strongly supportive of the president. So that's to say nothing of the merits of the charges or the evidence against him in pure political polling terms. It looks really unlikely that you'll get enough Republican senators to move on this and history is also on President Trump's side

Of the three previous presidents who have faced impeachment. None have been removed by the Senate. Andrew Johnson was impeached and was one vote away from being removed from office. I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow. After the Watergate scandal Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached. I did not

Have sexual relations with that woman. Bill Clinton was impeached but was saved in the Senate

And in mid-term elections during the proceedings, his party, in fact, gained seats.

President Trump's support base is likely to remain stable. Whatever questions are raised about his conduct as a result of the impeachment hearings polling suggests that the more partisan the hearings appear the more likely voters are to behave the same way in back their own team.

The polling now on impeachment breaks down pretty much the same way the approval of Donald Trump breaks down. So those two things have come into line. Donald Trump is not a hugely popular president but that said he does have a sort of bedrock of about 40 percent support. That's about the same share who are opposed to impeachment

For the most part. Mr. Trump's supporters have stood by him. Trump's net approval was at its highest at his inauguration. By the start of 2018 and had fallen by around 12 points. Since then it's remained relatively steady. Apart from a dip in support during the government shutdown earlier this year. Since the impeachment proceedings started his approval ratings have barely faltered. But could impeachment actually increase support for Mr. Trump?

If you talk to people at the White House what they will say is oh this impeachment talk is good for us. You know that it'll help President Trump in the polls. They're saying Actually it'll be an electoral boost to us. I'm not sure about that. I'm also not convinced that it helps the Democrats a huge amount. If you go back about a month the House leadership was still concerned that impeachment might really backfire for Democrats that if you're a Democrat running in a marginal seat or a district where Donald Trump did well that actually, it would hurt the Democrat's chances of re-election.

The majority of voters in key swing states oppose President Trump's removal so impeachment might not harm him in the way Democrats would like. They have long believed that Mr. Trump should pay a price for his norm-breaking behavior

Which I.

But given that voting to impeach him is a risky decision for Democrats why have they chosen to do it now.

A lot of Democrats went to the speaker and said listen if we don't impeach the president for this what do we impeach him for.

And there was a sense that they'd be giving him a free pass for all sorts of behavior and announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.

I think Democrats genuinely believe that what he did in his phone call with President Zaleski was very bad. And I think privately there are quite a few Republicans who agree with him on that.

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