An “impeachment inquiry” is now underway in the House of Representatives. This article has the latest developments.
The frenzy surrounding impeachment was triggered by a speech by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sept. 24 in which she endorsed an impeachment inquiry effort. On the one hand, nothing was changed by the speech. The House Judiciary Committee led by Jerry Nadler had been conducting an impeachment inquiry for months before Pelosi’s speech. All she did was add her imprimatur to the ongoing effort.
On the other hand, everything changed. Pelosi’s endorsement gave new life to the slow-moving inquiry. Pelosi’s speech also coincided with the release of a transcript of Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky concerning an alleged deal to provide U.S. aid in exchange for investigation of corruption by Joe Biden involving his son Hunter Biden.
The allegation is that a Ukrainian energy company paid Hunter Biden as much as $50,000 per month for a board seat in an industry in which he had no experience. This payment is seen as a bribe or kickback to Joe Biden.
The two sides each has its version of events. Trump says it was a typical phone call between heads of state and no illegal quid pro quo was offered. Trump’s attackers say that Trump illegally solicited foreign government interference in the 2020 election since Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner for the nomination.
I expect these arguments will go back and forth without much resolution for the next several months. You can tune them out.
Here’s what really matters: Impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. If the House wants to impeach Trump, they will, technical arguments notwithstanding. Impeachment will take place by early–mid-December.
Impeachment is an accusation, not a conviction or removal from office. The trial on the impeachment charges will take place in the Senate, probably in late January.
It takes 67 votes in the Senate to convict. The Democrats and independents have only 46 votes. As a practical matter, Trump will be acquitted and that’s the end of the impeachment saga. Trump will go on to a likely victory in 2020 and remain in office until January 2025 notwithstanding the “impeachment” label pressed on him by the Democrats.
The entire process is a political stunt. However, it will leave lasting scars on the country and create market uncertainty that will be a headwind to higher stock prices and economic growth.
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