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By Nitya Chakraborty 

The events in Washington in the last forty eight hours have given a fresh twist to the dimension of the anti-Constitutional actions of the beleaguered US President Donald Trump indicating that the appointment of the former FBI Director Robert Mueller as the special counsel to the investigations into Trump’s collusion with the Russians, has left very little escape route to Trump to wriggle out of the ongoing scandals. 

What makes the appointment of Mueller as a big threat to Trump presidency is that the President himself is continuously obstructing justice and acting opposing the positions of the White House officials. He is showing a sort of personal arrogance by openly saying that “I decide for myself”. Mueller is  known for his professional integrity and he is  getting adequate support from the officials of White House excepting Trump coterie and the issue will be whether the President has obstructed justice first by asking the former FBI Director Comey to let go of the Flyn investigation and he followed it up by firing him after he declined. Trump has complicated his position further by tweeting that Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations”. 

In US, the obstruction of justice by the President is a serious offence Reports have come that President Trump was aware of the warning given by former President Obama and then acting attorney general Sally Yates that Flyn acted as a lobbyist for the Turkish President getting funds, apart from his Russian connections. Still he appointed Flyn as national security adviser and gave him continuously good conduct certificate until it was impossible to retain him. All these developments during the week show that Trump scandals have reached a tipping point and the situation is fast reaching the stage of Watergate scandal during the tenure of President Nixon. 

Only hours after the bombshell announcement of the appointment of Mueller to head an investigation it was revealed by the New York Times that General Mike Flynn, the national security advisor appointed and later fired by Trump, had disclosed to the President that he was under investigation by the FBI for having been a paid foreign agent working for Turkey’s authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Trump has claimed he did not have that information when he appointed Flynn. 

Trump lashed out on Twitter again Thursday morning claiming that there was a double standard because both “the Clinton campaign and Obama” had committed “illegal acts” for which no special prosecutor had been appointed. The president offered no evidence for those claims. He also told a graduating class at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, even before the announcement of the appointment of a special counsel, that “no politician in history has been treated more unfairly” than him. 

The events of the last 24 hours appear to have brought into question whether the Trump administration will be able to survive the scandals, most of which it has brought on itself. Never before in U.S. history has a special prosecutor been named to investigate a president less than 120 days into his administration while talk of impeachment is heard on the floor and in the halls of the U.S. Capitol and throughout D.C. 

It also surfaced that at a previously unknown meeting of GOP leaders last year, Republican Majority leader Kevin McCarthy had said he thinks “Putin pays” Trump. Majority leader Paul Ryan scrambled on Wednesday to minimize the damage from the revelation, calling it a “joke.” 

Another factor is the nearly open revolt sweeping the ranks of the FBI and other intelligence agencies. The rank-and-file are none too happy about the Trump administration’s pot shots against them and, of course, the FBI has an all-to-well known history of not taking kindly to politicians and others who challenge them. Public opinion of course is a very serious factor as well, with 60 percent in recent polls indicating support for an investigation and nearly half saying that they thought impeachment should be on the table. 

According to the US constitution, the president in office can be impeached for treason, bribery or other misdemeanours. Bill Clinton was charged with obstruction of justice and with perjury for allegedly lying under oath to a federal grand jury about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. The current president can be charged for lying on a number of issues, including ties of his and his campaign leaders with the Russians, especially President Putin. So far, two presidents Bill Clinton (1998) and Andrew Johnson (1868) have been impeached. Articles of impeachment were passed against Richard Nixon by a congressional committee but Nixon resigned before the House of Representatives could vote on the matter. That way, technically, Nixon was not impeached. 

Interestingly, a recent opinion poll in US has revealed that 46 per cent of the people covered in the survey favoured impeachment of President Trump. His popularity is now lowest among the presidents at the end of first four months. The Republican Party is worried and there are talks that things should not be allowed to go too far. In that context, the change of president by promoting Pence through 25th amendment of the US constitution is being discreetly discussed in the Republican circles. The GOP leadership is still ready to wait hoping that Trump will mend his ways and he will start listening to the leadership. After all he is the nominee of the Republican Party. But people, who know Trump among the Republicans, are not nursing such hopes. They feel that he is too much narcissistic and it will be very difficult to change his ways. Only if signs become clear that the Republican voters are abandoning the Party due to his manners and policies, the GOP has to think of taking some action. (IPA Service)

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