What happens in the Trump impeachment investigation

The impeachment trap : Three reasons why impeachment will benefit Trump

The allegation in the room boils down to gross abuse of power: Has Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi to help him in the US election campaign and to launch a criminal investigation into Joe Biden: Trump's likely challenger in the 2020 presidential election? And did he put pressure on Zelenskyi by withholding $ 400 million in financial aid approved by the US Congress?

If that was the case and if it can be proven, it would be a serious breach of law on the verge of high treason. Under US law, it is forbidden to accept foreign aid in dealing with domestic opponents. The suspicion that Russia might have influenced the 2016 presidential election through a smear campaign against Trump's then opponent Hillary Clinton including a break in US databases has sparked considerable turmoil.

And investigations by Congress and by a special investigator, Robert Mueller - but he found no evidence that Trump or his campaign team were actively involved. In the end, it was all about the question of whether Trump had obstructed the judiciary in the investigation.

In the Ukraine affair, the suspicion is far more serious: the incumbent president should not only benefit from outside electoral influence. He is said to have instigated them and used his authority to achieve his goal.

The decision of the Speaker of Parliament, Nancy Pelosi, on Wednesday night is understandable and justified: It begins with the preliminary investigation into whether impeachment proceedings should be initiated against Trump. He "broke the constitution", violated his oath of office and harmed national security by asking a foreign power to blacken a domestic rival. Two antagonistic forces in US politics are particularly pleased about this: the left-wing base of the US Democrats and the right-wing supporters of President Trump.

Impeachment is a double-edged sword

If it had gone according to the wishes of the left wing of the party, the Democrats would have long since begun an impeachment - at the latest after they had regained the majority in the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm election. However, Pelosi is reluctant to use this instrument for good reasons. First, in the 232 years since the US Constitution was passed in 1787, no president has lost power through impeachment.

Second, the chances of success in power politics against Trump are slim. The introduction is decided by one chamber of the Congress, the House of Representatives. However, a two-thirds majority in the other chamber, the Senate, is required for the conviction. The Democrats have a majority in the House of Representatives, so they can initiate the process. Trump's party, the Republicans, have a majority in the Senate, however. A two-thirds majority in the Senate against Trump is an illusion.

Third, impeachment, if unsuccessful in Congress, is above all a tool to influence public opinion in the 2020 election year. So in the end, the voters decide what they think of it. And then at the latest it becomes a double-edged sword. It will exacerbate party political polarization - and that could benefit Trump more than the Democrats because it helps him mobilize his voters. Trump is consistently below 50 percent approval in polls. But he can win if he brings his supporters to the polls in significantly higher numbers than the Democrats with their potential voters.

A villain - or villains on both sides?

Trump is already calling the Democrats' approach a "witch hunt". He is not the villain in this play. The culprits are rather Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. The Democrats showed "double standards" here, Trump supporters go over to the counterattack. Joe Biden, as US Vice President in 2016, threatened Ukraine with withholding $ 1 billion in financial aid if the Kiev government did not fire Attorney General Viktor Shokin. One of the corruption cases that this prosecutor was pursuing included an investigation into a Ukrainian energy company whose board of directors was Hunter Biden, the son of the US Vice President.

On which side will more dirt stick in the end: Trump and the appearance of an alleged abuse of office? Or Joe Biden and the appearance of alleged abuse of office? Trump claimed in 2016 that he could commit a murder on 5th Avenue in New York - and that his constituents would still support him. That is an exaggeration. But who wins the 2020 US presidential election also depends on whether voters have a choice between a clean man and a villain - or between two villains.

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