Impeachment: Democrats hurting their own cause?

The US Democrats have taken the first steps towards impeaching Donald Trump. The background is a telephone call in which Trump reportedly asked Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky to pursue an investigation against the son of presidential hopeful Joe Biden, who is a member of the board of a Ukrainian gas company. Commentators discuss who stands to gain more from the proceedings.

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La Repubblica (IT) /

Perhaps this is just what Trump wanted

US correspondent Federico Rampini comments in La Repubblica that it's almost as if Trump wants impeachment proceedings:

“After all, the president himself has admitted that five months before the primaries get underway he asked a foreign power for help in denigrating the Democratic candidate in the pole position. ... This would be the third time in American history that this happened, but none of the proceedings led to impeachment because in the end the two-thirds majority required for the decisive verdict was never reached. The suspicion is that Trump is banking on catching up in the polls by playing the role of victim in the election campaign.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Both played dirty

Impeachment proceedings would do Trump more good than harm, Lidové noviny believes:

“Those pushing for the proceedings say the president put pressure on Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of Obama's vice-president Joe Biden. That was unlawful and unacceptable, they say. Trump's side disagrees: Hunter Biden's company was already being investigated for corruption in the past. Back then vice-president Biden pressured Kiev to drop the investigation. Which is worse? That's a question for US voters.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Not a good election campaign topic

The Democratic Party hasn't done itself any favours by making this the main election campaign topic, the taz fears:

“Like the Russian entanglements that led to the Mueller investigations, the Ukraine affair doesn't really interest anyone. ... It's another matter entirely, however, with Trump's migration, climate, weapons, military, women and education policies, his courting of right-wing extremists and racists, his discriminatory tweets and his ludicrous trade wars. ... The Democrats couldn't hold back anymore. But they'll need a very clever strategy to prevent the political indignation about Trump from fizzling out in committee debates about the interpretation of phone call recordings.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

No one is above the law

Despite all the risks for the Democrats NRC Handelsblad is convinced that impeachment proceedings are the right move:

“The question is how united the Democrats are behind the plan to topple the president. Many will fear that the move could further divide the country. The threat of a backlash that turns into an advantage for Trump is real. As is the possibility of further discrediting presidential candidate Joe Biden. Nevertheless, an analysis of the potential risks has clearly not deterred the Democrats from striking while the iron is hot. And rightly so, despite all the potential disadvantages. Because the very cornerstone of the rule of law in a liberal democracy is that no one is above the law.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Democrats showing signs of life

Why are the Democrats risking complete failure? asks La Vanguardia, offering the following explanation:

“Probably because it would have been even worse not to have done anything at all in the run-up to the elections. ... Faced with a choice between powerlessness and reaction they opted to move the most important piece on the board, even though they might lose it, because this is not about winning but staying in the game. The Democrats had to prove that they are still alive, that the Trump tsunami hasn't washed them away and that they are strong enough to reconquer the White House. They are using the impeachment proceedings to get fresh oxygen and regain a leading role.”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

This really could be the end

As opposed to the affair over Trump's Russia ties the current Ukrainian scandal could pose a real threat to Trump's presidency, writes Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger from The Washington Post, in The Irish Independent:

“Unlike the Mueller investigation, the collusion at issue is discrete, simple and, in all likelihood, easy to prove. Witnesses in addition to the whistleblower may include former officials who have no reason to abide by Trump's bogus executive immunity claims. I suspect that, if issued with subpoenas, people like former director of national intelligence Daniel Coats and his deputy Sue Gordon, as well as former national security adviser John Bolton, would testify honestly. … The House needs to move swiftly, with singular purpose, on this.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Justified but probably futile

For the Süddeutsche Zeitung this clear case of abuse of power should really be the last straw:

“In soliciting foreign help for his campaign, this president has crossed a line. If the claims that he made the provision of military aid to Ukraine conditional on this demand being met are proven, the offence would weigh all the heavier. Up to now the Democratic leadership has shied away from impeachment proceedings because it knows that it would be virtually impossible to convince the Republican 'concrete faction' that an injustice was committed. The proceedings will no doubt fail due to sheer ideological stubbornness. At the same time the US now has its number one election topic.”