Tuesday 12th December, 2017
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WASHINGTON, U.S. - Following two weeks of outrageous actions, U.S. President Donald Trump now finds himself in a place where not many American Presidents have been before.

Still, as talks of his impeachment moved from being a mere conspiracy theory discussed in hushed circles to an actual reality taking birth on the House floor on Wednesday, not many raised eyebrows. 

The possibility of Trump’s impeachment was born even before he officially claimed the White House. 

However, the last two weeks and the revelations that have been made have leaded his administration to a point where the likelihood of his ouster might soon become a reality. 

A timeline of contoversies

Last week, the drama started with fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates revealing that Trump administration officials were informed about the risk that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was a ripe blackmail target for Russia while in office. 

This revelation took up massive media space at the start of the week - but no one in Washington, not even the country’s mainstream media was prepared for what was to follow the same week.

In a shock move, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and what followed from there on is more drama and a deepening crisis that holds the potential to sink Trump’s presidency, that had established its base on a shaky ground.  

The President, post Comey’s ouster, blindsided his own vice president with his shifting reasoning before sabotaging the White House press operation that was trying to defend him. 

A report earlier last week also claimed that Trump demanded a loyalty pledge from Comey, leading to a warning by critics that Trump was guilty of a grotesque abuse of power, or even worse. 

Causing further damage to his position of power, Trump suggested in a televised interview that Comey's investigation into links between his presidential campaign and Russia were indeed the reason he was fired.

Unleashing another round of drama, in an early morning tweetstorm on Friday, Trump seemed to suggest he had a Nixon-style White House taping operation - and warned Comey against making any negative leaks about him to the media.

Trump tweeted, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

Trump even threatened to cancel media press briefings on Twitter, putting the news media on notice.

Then came a potentially devastating revelation that left his administration on the defensive, after a report in The Washington Post revealed that a day after Comey’s ouster, when Trump held a highly controversial meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak - he let slip details of a top secret intelligence to the Russian ambassador.

Current and former U.S. officials revealed in the report that at the meeting, Trump had revealed the highly classified information to the Russian official, putting a source of intelligence on the Islamic State at risk.

It was also noted that the information Trump relayed during the Oval Office meeting had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement - later indicated to be Israel.

The information was considered so sensitive, that details of it had even been withheld from allies and was tightly restricted even within the U.S. government.

Following this, 24 hours later, a monster of a controversy blew in Trump’s direction when The New York Times, citing a memo written by Comey, reported allegations that the President had asked the then FBI chief to drop an inquiry into links between his ex-national security adviser and Russia.

What happens now?

On Wednesday, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) said reports that President Trump pressed ousted FBI Director James Comey to end an investigation would merit impeachment if true.

Amash has been a frequent conservative critic of the Trump administration and became the first Republican lawmaker to broach the idea of impeachment.

Amash, who is one of only two House Republicans to cosponsor a Democratic bill to establish an independent commission to investigate Russia's role in the election, however pointed out, “But everybody gets a fair trial in this country.

The legislation has also been endorsed by Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.). 

In February, merely weeks after taking on the role of Trump's national security adviser, Flynn was ousted after it was revealed that he misled the public and top White House officials about his communications with a Russian ambassador regarding sanctions. 

Meanwhile, Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) also said on Wednesday, that he plans to call for President Trump to be impeached on the House floor.

Green tweeted, “Today on the floor of the Congress of the United States of America, I will call for the Impeachment of the President.”

Earlier this week, Green had accused the president of obstructing the ongoing investigation into possible ties between his campaign and Russia, saying “the mantra should be ITN: Impeach Trump now."

While he said on Monday that he would wait a few weeks before starting the impeachment process, he has now said, “It’s not the political expedient thing to do, this is what we must do to maintain our democracy. A good many people assume that impeachment means that the President will be found guilty. It does not. Impeachment is the genesis of the process. The revelation are likely to be revealed in the Senate and that’s where the trial actually takes place."

Is an impeachment likely?

Currently, there’s a website with over 976,000 signatures on a petition encouraging Congress to impeach Trump. 

A popular Twitter handle, ‘Impeach Donald Trump’ also exists. 

However, the likelihood of Trump being impeached by a Republican Congress is very low. 

According to the U.S. constitution, a president "shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanours.”

An impeachment process has to be initiated by the House of Representatives.

It needs a simple majority to pass, following which, a trial will be set in the Senate.

In the Senate, a two-thirds vote is necessary for removal.

Incidentally, this milestone has never been reached in America's history.

In essence, according to Lawfare Blog, Trump could technically be accused of violations of his oath of office to "preserve, protect, and defend" the U.S. constitution.

However, since the Republicans control the House by 238 to 193 and they control the Senate by 52 to 46, plus two independents - in addition the vast majority of Republicans are loyal to President Trump despite his sinking approval ratings - the likelihood is still very low. 

Following the revelations this week, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal said, "It may well produce impeachment proceedings."

Meanwhile, Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth said, “We're actually pretty close to considering impeachment.”

And Texas Democrat Al Green,“He has committed an impeachable act and must be charged.”

California Democrat Maxine Waters said, “We don't have to be afraid to use the word impeachment. We don't have to think impeachment is out of our reach."

Further, an hour after the NYT report on Comey’s memo broke, former top Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted that he's been "resistant to impeachment talk until now."

Meanwhile, A White House official said in a statement, “While the President has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn. The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the President and Mr. Comey."

The official further noted that, "Deputy Director McCabe said in his testimony last week that the WH had not interfered with any investigation."

Prominent Republican leader John McCain, who is a staunch critic of the Trump and the Chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, has said, "I think we've seen this movie before. I think it appears at a point where it's of Watergate size and scale... the shoes continue to drop, and every couple days there's a new aspect.”

Bookmakers claim Trump is odds-on to depart the White House

In all this, political punters are already voting with their wallets after bookmakers reported that Trump is odds-on to depart the White House during his first term, weighted under a cloud of controversy.

According to online betting site BetVictor, following Tuesday’s revelations the site saw large amounts of money being placed on Donald Trump’s presidency to end in 2017 at odds of 3-1. 

The online bookmaker says it expects the odds to shorten further in the next 48 hours or so, adding, “We were forced to cut him to 2-1 and support has continued this morning and Trump is now 7-4 to leave office this year, after the latest in a litany of scandals to have rocked the White House during his short administration.”

Meanwhile, Irish bookmaker Paddy Power said, odds are now 2-1 that Trump will be impeached before the end of his first term, with treason (10-3) the most likely reason, followed by tax evasion (4-1), perjury (7-1) and bribery (10-1).

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