Trump derides impeachment as 'attempted coup'

Mr Trump will most likely be acquitted, as Democrats are unlikely to muster the two-thirds Senate majority needed to convict him.
Mr Trump will most likely be acquitted, as Democrats are unlikely to muster the two-thirds Senate majority needed to convict him.PHOTO: AFP

US President rails against Democrats as historic House vote looms

As a historic but deeply polarising impeachment vote loomed in the House, United States President Donald Trump railed against the Democrats in a furious letter which accused them of launching an "illegal, partisan attempted coup" that would come back to bite them at the ballot box next year.

By yesterday morning, nearly all House Democrats - including those in vulnerable swing states won by Mr Trump in the 2016 election - signalled they would vote to impeach the President, a number that would make the outcome a certainty.

House Republicans lined up firmly behind the President. As yesterday's debate in the House started, they began a series of procedural votes to stall the impeachment process, which failed.

Final votes on the articles of impeachment were expected to take place yesterday evening (this morning Singapore time), and would make Mr Trump the third President in American history to be impeached.

A trial in the Republican-held Senate, in which senators will act as jurors, will then follow. Mr Trump will most likely be acquitted, as Democrats are unlikely to muster the two-thirds Senate majority needed to convict him.

Mr Trump, who is charged with abuse of power and obstructing Congress over allegedly pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political rival Joe Biden, has stuck to his guns that he did nothing wrong.

He repeated this position in an angry six-page public letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, denouncing what he called a "partisan impeachment crusade" and an "unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power".

He accused Democrats of engaging in a scheme to nullify his electoral victory in 2016, writing: "Your chosen candidate lost the election in 2016... and you and your party have never recovered from this defeat.

"You are unwilling and unable to accept the verdict issued at the ballot box... so you have spent three straight years attempting to overturn the will of the American people and nullify their votes."

 
 
 
 

Mr Trump also accused the Democrats of being enemies of democracy. But he acknowledged the near-certainty of impeachment, tweeting hours before the debate started: "Can you believe that I will be impeached today by the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats, AND I DID NOTHING WRONG! A terrible Thing.

"Read the Transcripts. This should never happen to another President again."

On Twitter, Ms Pelosi noted that all of the witnesses from the Trump administration - called up in a series of hearings over the past month - told the same story on the President's conduct over Ukraine.

"The President put himself above the law, abused the power of his office for personal gain, and is trying to corrupt our elections. We have a duty to the Constitution," she wrote.

Initially wary of impeachment for fear of blowback in next year's election, Ms Pelosi has since embraced the inquiry after a whistle-blower complained in September that Mr Trump was soliciting foreign interference in next year's election.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2019, with the headline 'Trump derides impeachment as 'attempted coup''. Print Edition | Subscribe