To paraphrase the famous old saying, there are three things certain in life: death, taxes and Donald Trump putting his foot in it.
The US President seems to have produced a personal best this week in terms of absolute buffoonery, and some of the allegations being thrown his way could be enough for the impeachment process to be considered.
From alleged collusion with Russia to rig the election to reported ‘hush money’ paid to a couple of adult film stars to cover up alleged affairs, it’s not been a good week for the bouffanted most powerful man on the planet.
Here’s a look at his rap sheet:
From Russia With Love
While the allegations of Vladimir Putin getting involved in the US election are just that – allegations, it is interesting to note that famed American broadcaster CNN has produced a checklist of ‘facts’ that confirm some kind of involvement from Russia.
They have produced a timeline which confirms that a Democratic National Committee member’s computer was ‘compromised’ by a Russian source, while Hilary Clinton’s campaign advisor, John Podesta, fell for a phishing scam that granted hackers access to his emails.
Then, of course, there was the presidential debate and the hot potato that the Democrats had used a private email server to protect sensitive messages sent to and from Clinton. ‘Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,’ said Trump in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way which now actually looks quite prescient.
In June 2017, Putin denied that the Russian government had hacked the US presidential campaign, but that ‘patriotic Russian citizens’ may have been involved if they felt compelled to protect their country.
Later that month, the Department of Homeland Security stated that hackers linked to the Russian government had ‘targeted voting systems’ in up to 21 states. The subsequent Sanctions Act limits Trump’s power to go easy on the Russians.
And in July this year, the Justice Department announced 12 members of a Russian Intelligence Agency, the GRU, would be indicted on hacking charges.
At this time, there is no insinuation that Trump ordered the hack or that his campaign was involved in any way. However, it does not look good for a president who is no stranger to controversy.
For Your Eyes Only
There have been other allegations lodged against Trump this week. It has been reported that he paid hush money to two women, who it is believed he had affairs with, in order to keep them quiet during the election campaign.
His former lawyer, Michael Cohen, claimed that he had paid the women ‘for the principal purpose of influencing the election’, which is presumably why the stories of Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal broke after all of the votes had been counted.
Cohen has actually pleaded guilty to ‘campaign finance violations’ in court, while Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been convicted of banking and tax fraud.
Most troubling for Trump is the revelation that Cohen has ‘….both knowledge about a conspiracy to corrupt American democracy by the Russians, and the failure to report that knowledge to the FBI,’ according to his lawyer Lanny Davis.
All of the above comes after Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor, was found guilty of lying to the FBI.
Trump this week went back on his claims that he knew nothing about the hush payments, telling a US television network that the payments came from his personal account, rather than that of his campaign.
The payments were not reported to the Federal Election Commission, and a breach of election rules would have occurred if the Commission agreed that the ‘payments were made with the aim of influencing a vote’.
Will Trump Be Impeached?
It is highly unlikely as of right now, as the Democrats would need significant support from Republicans in Congress to start such proceedings.
That said, the mid-term elections take place in November, and if the Democrats can win back Congress they would be in a much stronger position.
For their part, Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi has said that this (impeachment) is ‘not the path the party should go on’ ahead of the mid-terms.
There has never been a successful impeachment attempt in the history of US politics, with only two presidents – Bill Clinton ad Andrew Johnson, way back in the 1800s.
Proceedings were brought against Clinton in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky affair, with two chances of perjury getting a narrow majority in the house vote.
However, the Senate vote did not get the 66% or higher proportion of the vote it needed for impeachment to be approved.