The Straits Times says

A polarising start to US election year

An impeachment trial - only the third in American history - ended this week with President Donald Trump being acquitted with ease. He was found not guilty by a vote of 52-48 on charges of abuse of power, and by 53-47 on the obstruction of Congress. His Dec 18 impeachment by the House of Representatives was on the grounds that he had abused the power of his office by soliciting interference from a foreign government, Ukraine, to uncover dirt on his Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of this year's Nov 3 presidential election. For his refusal to participate in the impeachment inquiry, Mr Trump was charged with obstructing Congress.

The cloud that has hung over the presidency since the Mueller investigation in May 2017 and the House's Ukraine probe last September appears to have blown over. While he carries the dubious distinction of becoming the first impeached president to seek re-election, Mr Trump's job approval rating has hit 49 per cent, a record for the President whose numbers never crossed 50 per cent. Among his party men, the figure stands at an eye-popping 94 per cent. On the crucial matter of handling the economy, as many as 63 per cent of Americans give Mr Trump the thumbs-up, a high that was last enjoyed by former president George W. Bush, post the 9/11 attacks.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2020, with the headline 'A polarising start to US election year'. Subscribe