Sunday 22 September 2019

I can't stand Trump but I want him to be voted out of office - not impeached

President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy in their 1980s heyday. Photo: Getty Images
President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy in their 1980s heyday. Photo: Getty Images

David Millward

It would be fair to say I am not a great fan of Donald Trump.

I cannot get my head around the fact Hillary Clinton lost the election despite winning 2.9 million more votes than Trump.

His claim that the figures were distorted by widespread voter fraud is laughable. Indeed, earlier this year, he even scrapped the commission he had established to prove his point.

A conservative friend of mine - who regards Ronald Reagan as the finest president in American history - described Trump as the worst ever occupant of the Oval Office.

I find it hard to disagree, though my wife tells me that historians believe that dubious accolade should, in fact, go to James Buchanan.

Come the 2020 election, I will have been in the US long enough to take up citizenship and express my preference at the polls. That is when, I hope, voters will put an end to the chaos which Trump has wrought on the US.

However, this is not a view shared by many on the liberal left, who believe he should be turfed out of the White House as soon as possible.

Some are pinning their hopes on the 25th amendment of the US constitution, which allows a president to be removed if he is deemed "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office".

Others believe the Mueller investigation will provide grounds for impeachment, though more rational voices are suggesting that his team should be allowed to follow the evidence and see where it leads.

There is something profoundly depressing about American politics that neither side is prepared to accept the results of the election.

Trump may have won thanks to the electoral college - an 18th-century anachronism which should have been consigned to history a long time ago - but those were the rules.

Impeachment seems to be the weapon of choice for left and right, even when the grounds are downright flimsy. Among those calling for Trump's impeachment is Ron Reagan - the former president's son. "He is unfit for office and he needs to be removed," he told MSNBC.

His comments were telling, but perhaps not in the way he intended.

The Trump campaign's contacts with the Russians were "treasonable" he said. "It's not treason technically in the legal sense, but treasonable," he added.

In just a few words Reagan junior gave the game away admitting - perhaps unwittingly - that the law had not been broken.

But it is not as if Donald Trump is the first president since Nixon to face the threat of impeachment.

Ronald Reagan's presidency was threatened by the Iran-Contra deal. Bill Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives - and subsequently acquitted by the Senate - over allegations that he lied to a grand jury and attempted to obstruct justice.

Lest we forget, the whole affair centred on the Lewinsky affair and other allegations surrounding Clinton's sexual activities.

George W Bush faced calls for his impeachment, with articles being drawn up by two Democrat congressmen, Robert Wexler and Dennis Kucinich.

They came up with 35 different reasons why Bush should be removed from office including the conduct of the Iraq war, undermining attempts to tackle climate change and the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.

There was a raft of calls to impeach Barack Obama and of course, Donald Trump tried to oust him on the grounds that he was not born in the United States.

Trump has rather shrewdly used the threat of impeachment - or a witch hunt, as he calls it - to energise his base in the mid-term elections.

Some senior Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, are rowing back from impeachment, which is probably sensible.

Other Democrats would be well advised to follow suit and trust the Mueller commission to embarrass Trump by successfully prosecuting some of his key allies while leaving the president's fate to be decided by the electorate.

That is how things should be done in a democracy.

If they overplay their hand, they may find that voters do not like sore losers.

Daily Telegraph, London

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