The so-called “Russia-gate” narrative in the United States took a sudden and unexpected turn last week when Michael Flynn, the former US national security advisor, pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and agreed to cooperate with the authorities over the ongoing inquiry.
Worse still, Matthew Miller, former US Justice Department spokesman under the Obama administration, told the media that President Donald Trump could have committed obstruction of justice if he already knew Flynn was lying to the feds at the time when he fired former FBI chief James Comey.
The latest twist in the Russia-gate investigation automatically begs the question: if, in the worst-case scenario, the saga eventually snowballs into a full-blown political crisis, and prompts the Democrats to file impeachment against President Trump, are they likely to succeed?
Well, judging from the recent passage of the tax reform plan put forward by the Trump administration in the Senate, we believe the chances of the Democrats succeeding in pushing their impeachment motion through the Congress and removing President Trump from office are extremely remote, given the fact that the Republicans are now in control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Even if the FBI later finds substantial evidence proving Russia’s interference in the presidential election last year and prompts more Republican lawmakers to break ranks and turn against the president, it would still be highly unlikely that the Democrats can successfully impeach Trump.
It is because in order to impeach a sitting US president, first it takes at least a majority vote in the House of Representatives, and then second, at least a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate.
However, since the GOP now holds 240 seats in the House and the Democrats only 194, it is very unlikely that the Democrats can get the green light from the Congress to trigger the impeachment proceedings.
As such, perhaps all the Democrats can do right now is to wait till the midterm elections next year. If they manage to regain control of the Congress, then impeaching President Trump and removing him from office will not become a futile endeavor.
And it appears the election prospects of the Democrats are getting increasingly promising, as their candidates have defeated their Republican rivals in the recent governor and mayor elections in the states of Virginia, New Jersey and New York one after the other amid the falling popularity of Trump.
Besides, if Flynn makes more shocking revelations about the Russia-gate saga in the days ahead, it would, to a certain extent, influence voters’ decisions next year. All these will add up to determining the political future of Trump.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 4
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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