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Donald Trump's unusual impeachment

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Like his presidency, Mr Donald Trump's impeachment has a preponderance of the unusual. He came to power polling three million votes fewer than Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election but defeating her in key battleground states to win the White House. His three years in office have been punctuated by controversial policies, his aides imprisoned for crimes and his conduct in personal life and business dealings debated in court cases. His Dec 18 impeachment by the House of Representatives was on the grounds that he abused the power of the presidency by soliciting interference from a foreign government to dig up dirt on his rival Joe Biden to win in 2020. He was also charged with obstructing Congress from discharging its oversight duty through his refusal to participate in the impeachment inquiry. Stonewalling was the second count on which he was impeached. Unusually, Mr Trump himself provided public evidence of his "high crimes and misdemeanours" - namely, the transcript of his July 25 phone call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky during which he pressed him to launch investigations against Mr Biden.

The unconventional Mr Trump may enter the record books for a second time next Nov 3, as the first impeached president in American history to win re-election. It is clear that the Republican-dominated Senate will not provide the two-thirds majority needed to convict and remove him from office in a trial, if and when it is held. The impeachment may fuel his re-election. On the day of the House vote, his party raised at least US$5 million (S$6.8 million) in campaign funds. Since the commencement of the process, which was unpopular with 51 per cent of Americans according to a Gallup poll, about 600,000 new volunteers have enlisted with the Republicans.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2019, with the headline Donald Trump's unusual impeachment. Subscribe