Once considered to be the favourite to win the 2020 Democratic nomination, the allegations against Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, have tarnished his campaign. His poll numbers now look weary. President Trump had asked the Ukrainian Government to investigate the former vice president’s son after its top prosecutor announced a major review of past corruption investigations that had either been cancelled or split up. Fifteen of those cases involve the founder of the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma. Hunter was appointed to the company’s board in 2014 whilst his father was still Obama’s number two.
The New York Times believes that Joe is torn between his instinct to protect his family from what he believes to be an unjustified attack against his character to presenting himself as politically decisive. His speech in Reno, Nevada, which launched a scathing attack at the way the Trump administration behaved on this issue, was overshadowed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s threat to impeach the President for asking the Ukrainian Government to conduct this investigation into Hunter. It now appears that impeachment might be the only solution for the Democrats to remove a president they despise to ensure that they win the 2020 general election.
Joe was once regarded as the candidate who could beat Trump. He was Obama’s former vice president and his former boss is considered to be one of the US’s most popular leaders. Obama’s approval average is 47.9 per cent. But Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have both out-raised him in the third quarter by $10 million. With Sanders recovering from a heart attack, Warren may gain support from many progressives in the Democrats, thereby preventing the Vermont senator from splitting the left-wing vote. This means Warren’s chances of clinching the 2020 Democratic nomination from the former vice president have increased.
The Democrats are in trouble. Veteran GOP strategist Colin Reed believes Warren should not be underestimated. But one Democrat strategist said her policies could alienate many marginal voters she needs to win, rather like Michael Dukakis did in 1988. The Hill produced a poll showing every other Democratic candidate beat Trump in a popularity poll except Warren. Compared to Biden, this leads many to doubt that she could defeat the President in an election. With impeachment emerging as Pelosi’s last resort to unseat their Republican rival, it also appears unlikely that this strategy will work too.
The White House Counsel’s Office is preparing to formally object to the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry on Friday, saying it will not cooperate with the probe because it was launched without a vote of the House of Representatives. They will send a letter to Pelosi objecting to the form of the impeachment investigation. But when Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were both threatened with impeachment, the House voted before an inquiry was conducted, despite House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy arguing the US Constitution does not state a vote is required before an impeachment inquiry.
Impeachment is likely to burst into a lengthy legal battle between the Oval Office and the Democrats, which The Daily Telegraph argues could only animate the President’s supporters ahead of the 2020 election. Pelosi has sought to avoid a vote on the impeachment probe because it would force moderate House Democrats to make a politically risky move. Courts have generally required congressional oversight requests to demonstrate a legitimate legislative purpose into impeachment requests.
Pelosi is playing a dangerous game. During the 2006 mid-term elections, she threatened President Bush with impeachment over the 2003 Iraq War, and that strategy quickly collapsed. She also failed to impeach Trump over allegations of Russian collusion in 2016. Rudy Giuliani, the President’s attorney, will argue that Trump was investigating political corruption in Ukraine. If the White House wins this legal argument, it could humiliate Pelosi further.
The New York Times‘ Christopher Buskirk joked that so far, Trump is winning the Democratic debates. He could be right. Every candidate has significant flaws that mean they do not present a credible threat to the President, and impeachment looks increasingly unlikely every day.