Other Angles on the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump

The impeachment of President Trump has now begun. Investigators will now try to determine whether he tried to pressure Ukraine's president into providing damning information on former US Vice President (and current presidential candidate) Joe Biden and his son Hunter in order to help Trump win the 2020 election.


For an excellent explanation of the basics of impeachment, click here for a story by Gabrielle Debinski. To better understand what Trump is accused of, click here for the unclassified "whistleblower" letter.

But for a couple of angles you might not see elsewhere, let's look at the impact of impeachment on the Democrats running for president and on President Trump's foreign policy.

First, this is not a good story for Joe Biden. While Biden was Barack Obama's vice president, his son Hunter served on the board of Ukraine's largest private gas company and was reportedly paid up to $50,000 per month for his services.

The impeachment investigation may never prove that Joe or Hunter Biden committed crimes, but a potential conflict-of-interest story like this one will weigh heavily on Biden's bid to win his party's presidential nomination. Some Democratic Party voters will doubt Biden's honesty and move toward a candidate they trust more. Others may decide that Biden is no longer the person most likely to beat Trump.

Either way, the impeachment process will damage Biden's candidacy.

Second, how will impeachment affect US foreign policy? When the US launched cruise missiles at suspected al‑Qaeda sites in Afghanistan and Sudan in August 1998 in retaliation for the bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania two weeks earlier, critics accused then-President Bill Clinton of using military action to distract the public from impeachment investigations. It's a reminder that military actions always face scrutiny and skepticism when presidents are in political trouble, and some warn that Trump might launch an attack somewhere to change the political subject.

But Trump's often-expressed aversion to military commitments appears to make this unlikely. In fact, impeachment could make Trump more conciliatory on some foreign-policy issues. The closing of huge deals is also central to Trump's brand, and the need to have something to show voters for his confrontation with China will only become more intense. Any president up for re-election wants a strong election-year stock market, and deals that ease trade tension, particularly with China, might be just the thing. There are some who say impeachment might help advance the NAFTA 2.0 trade deal (USMCA) if Democrats will bring it to a vote to show impeachment is not all they care about.

Some foreign leaders might welcome this. The president is about to be deeply preoccupied. That's good if you're someone who prefers that Trump stay out of your country's business. China's Xi Jinping is probably content to see Trump under pressure and in need of a signature accomplishment. Mexico's President Lopez Obrador might be pleased to see Trump turn his vitriolic attention toward Democrats. European leaders can live without more trade threats and criticism of NATO. Iran's leaders will relish Trump's frustration and hope for a new US president following the 2020 election.

But others may regret his distraction. Kim Jong-un might feel that Trump's engagement and willingness to negotiate with him is the best thing to come from the US in a long time. The Saudis want to keep Trump's mind on the Middle East and potential threats from Iran. Britain's Boris Johnson, Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu might want more of his active personal support.

Putin might be happy either way. If impeachment strengthens Trump, then Russia's president can count on future meetings with the only American ally he can expect for the foreseeable future. If Trump is hobbled, Putin can pop up some popcorn to enjoy the ugly American spectacle.

Spare a thought for Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukraine's president can expect a rough year. Ukraine needs US political and financial support in order to hold ground against Russia and boost Ukraine's economy. That's why Zelensky needs good relations with both Republicans and Democrats.

But as the object of alleged pressure from Trump to investigate Biden, Zelensky will be at the center of the impeachment inquiry. That means he'll face pressure from Trump not to say anything incriminating and pressure from Democrats who will want him to do precisely that.

This month, a bipartisan group of legislators in Washington state presented new legislation that could soon become the most comprehensive privacy law in the country. The centerpiece of this legislation, the Washington Privacy Act as substituted, goes further than the landmark bill California recently enacted and builds on the law Europeans have enjoyed for the past year and a half.

As Microsoft President Brad Smith shared in his blog post about our priorities for the state of Washington's current legislative session, we believe it is important to enact strong data privacy protections to demonstrate our state's leadership on what we believe will be one of the defining issues of our generation. People will only trust technology if they know their data is private and under their control, and new laws like these will help provide that assurance.

Read more here.

Let's be clear— the Middle East peace plan that the US unveiled today is by no means fair. In fact, it is markedly more pro-Israel than any that have come before it.

But the Trump administration was never aiming for a "fair" deal. Instead, it was pursuing a deal that can feasibly be implemented. In other words, it's a deal shaped by a keen understanding of the new power balances within the region and globally.

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Betty Liu, Executive Vice Chairman for NYSE Group, explains:

Do election years have an impact on the markets?

So, the short answer is it depends. There's lots of factors that affect the markets, right. But there are some trends. So, the S&P has had its best performance in the year before elections and the second-best performance on election year. Now since 1928, we've had 23 election years and the S&P has had negative returns only four times in that duration.

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For months now, the US has been lobbying countries around the world to ban the Chinese tech giant Huawei from building the 5G data networks that are going to power everything from your cell phone, to power grids, to self-driving cars. US security hawks say allowing a Chinese company to supply such essential infrastructure could allow the Chinese government to steal sensitive data or even sabotage networks. On the other hand, rejecting Huawei could make 5G more expensive. It also means angering the world's second-largest economy.

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The end of the interim in Bolivia? – Mere months after taking over as Bolivia's interim president, Jeanine Áñez has decided that "interim" isn't quite permanent enough, and she now wants to run for president in elections set for May 3. Áñez is an outspoken conservative who took over in October when mass protests over election fraud prompted the military to oust the long-serving left-populist Evo Morales. She says she is just trying to unify a fractious conservative ticket that can beat the candidate backed by Morales' party. (Morales himself is barred from running.) Her supporters say she has the right to run just like anyone else. But critics say that after promising that she would serve only as a caretaker president, Áñez's decision taints the legitimacy of an election meant to be a clean slate reset after the unrest last fall. We are watching closely to see if her move sparks fresh unrest in an already deeply polarized country.

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