Trump impeachment: will it succeed?

The first witnesses testified in the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump on Wednesday. Their testimony supports the accusation that Trump pressured Ukraine to launch an investigation against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son. Commentators ask what chances the proceedings have of success in view of the details that have come to light.

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NV (UA) /

Democrats' strategy unclear

In the impeachment proceedings against US President Trump, the Democrats haven't made their accusations sufficiently clear, writes Ivan Yakovyna in Novoye Vremya:

“Today, the House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time described the interactions between Trump and Ukraine as an attempt at 'bribery'. This is a very important event because the US Constitution stipulates only 'treason' and 'bribery' as grounds for a president's impeachment. Trump is therefore to be confronted with the accusation of bribery. But there is a problem: it wasn't clear to me from Pelosi's statement who is supposed to have bribed whom, did Ukraine bribe Trump with the promise to open investigations connected to Biden, or did Trump bribe with the promise to release military aid? That the democrats have yet to decide.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

A weak point in the case against Trump

The details that have emerged so far reveal shortcomings on the part of the Democrats, writes De Volkskrant:

“Everything indicates that Trump really did try to bring down Biden with Zelensky's help, and that is unquestionably a serious offence. But the issue here is whether the Democrats can persuade enough Republicans to depose the president. And as far as that goes, the Republicans kept insisting on Wednesday on a weak point in the Democrats' case. Perhaps Trump did threaten with the 'quid pro quo', but in the end Ukraine received the promised military aid even though Zelensky didn't give Trump what he wanted.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

Proof of unpredictable foreign policy

The statements made so far shed a light on the US's current approach in foreign policy, Sydsvenskan comments:

“Given the current political situation in the United States, there is little indication that Trump will be toppled. But that doesn't make his alleged actions any less striking. ... Clearly Trump can abandon loyal allies if he chooses to without forewarning or Nato coordination. It doesn't seem entirely unlikely that he withheld money for the Ukrainian military in order to give his campaign for re-election a boost. At the very least the investigation reveals the weaknesses and lack of principles of Trump's policies. This is important information for voters in next year's presidential election.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

A show trial to mobilise voters

Both Democrats and Republicans see the public hearings on the Ukraine scandal as an opportunity, The Daily Telegraph comments:

“Pelosi hopes the case will be sufficient to persuade Democrat voters to turn out in 2020 rather than sitting on their hands, as they did in 2016 because of their dislike of Hillary Clinton. Lest we forget, Trump and the Republicans have been itching for an impeachment hearing for months. From their point of view, it bolsters the narrative that the Washington establishment has been desperate to orchestrate a coup. … Being cynical, the hearings will be a way for both parties to press their case on television without having to pay for advertising slots.”

Pravda (SK) /

Trump will exploit this reality show

Nothing is as symbolic of the division of the US as the hearings now under way, writes Pravda:

“We can assume that Trump's party will try to turn the hearings into a shocking reality show. This is a genre in which the boss in the Oval Office feels very much at home. ... Impeachment is the logical result of the suspicion that Trump urged Ukraine to smear his political opponent, former Democratic Vice-President Joe Biden. This is clear from the statements published so far by several representatives of the current US government. ... It should not be forgotten, however, that a considerable number of Democrats were sceptical about the impeachment before this affair. The Democrats, too, are aware that a constitutional complaint will further divide the US.”

De Morgen (BE) /

A boon for Mike Pence

The witnesses' testimonies incriminate high-ranking Republicans, but above all they strengthen the position of the vice-president, writes De Morgen:

“If more evidence [from intelligence circles] is presented, the probability of leading Republicans turning against Trump will increase. Senators who face a neck-and-neck race against democratic challengers for re-election in 2020 will think hard about their choices. ... But if anyone can really endanger Trump's position right now it's his vice-president and the latter's allies in the Senate. ... If Pence campaigns alongside Trump again in 2020, he will undoubtedly raise his political price, with a quid pro quo for greater emphasis on Christian values in policies in the next four years. So don't be surprised if Trump soon starts tweeting for forgiveness instead of ranting and raving.”