Here are the main events that occurred in Politics this week:
1. House of Representatives Launches Formal Impeachment Inquiry Against President Donald Trump
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on September 24 that the House of Representatives would begin a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, accusing him of betraying his oath of office by seeking to enlist a foreign country to tarnish one of his political rivals. House Speaker Pelosi’s declaration, after months of reluctance by Democrats who had feared the political consequences of impeaching a President many of them long ago concluded was unfit for office, was a stunning turn of events that set the stage for a history-making confrontation between the Democrat-led House and a defiant President. “The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution,” Pelosi said in a brief speech invoking the nation’s founding principles. President Trump, she added, “must be held accountable, no one is above the law. She said Trump’s conduct revealed the “betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to push forward with the most severe action that Congress can take against a sitting president could usher in a remarkable new chapter in American history, touching off a constitutional and political showdown, reshape Donald Trump’s presidency, and carry heavy risks both for him and for the Democrats who have decided to weigh his removal. For example, an impeachment inquiry could either result in President Donald Trump’s supporters rallying behind him or cause his base of support to shrink to the point in which his re-election chances are in jeopardy. Though the outcome is uncertain, it also raised the possibility that Donald Trump could become only the fourth President in American history to face the threat of impeachment. Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached but later acquitted by the Senate. President Richard Nixon resigned in the face of a House impeachment vote that was likely to come in early 1975.
President Donald Trump, who for months has dared Democrats to impeach him, issued a defiant response on Twitter while in New York for the UN General Assembly, with a series of fuming posts that culminated with a simple phrase: “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!” Meanwhile, Trump’s re-election campaign and House Republican leaders launched a vociferous defense, accusing Democrats of a partisan rush to judgment. “Such an important day at the United Nations, so much work and so much success, and the Democrats purposely had to ruin and demean it with more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage,” President Trump wrote. “So bad for our Country!.” Additionally, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy similarly denounced the Democrats recent push for impeachment proceedings against President Trump, claiming that they are trying to overturn the results of the 2016 Election and that their actions go directly against the will of the American people.
For the past two years, talk of impeachment had centered around the investigation led by Robert Mueller into then-candidate Donald Trump’s connection to Russian election meddling efforts during the 2016 Election. On September 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the press that the new revelations about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and his stonewalling of Congress about them have finally left the House of Representatives with no other choice but to proceed with a formal impeachment inquiry. “Right now, we have to strike while the iron is hot,” Speaker Pelosi told House Democrats in a closed-door meeting.
At issue are allegations that President Donald Trump pressured the President of Ukraine to open a corruption investigation against former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. The conversation is said to be part of a whistle-blower complaint that the Trump administration has withheld from Congress. The conversation in question occurred just a few days after President Trump had ordered his administration to freeze more than $391 million in aid to Ukraine. President Trump has confirmed aspects of his conversation with the Ukrainian leader in recent days, but he continues to insist he acted appropriately. Trump also stated that he would authorize the release of a transcript of the conversation, part of an effort to pre-empt Democrats’ impeachment push. But Democrats, after months of holding back, were unbowed, demanding the full whistle-blower complaint and other documentation about White House dealings with Ukraine, even as they pushed toward an impeachment inquiry that could encompass unrelated charges.
2. President Donald Trump Delivers Third UN General Assembly Speech, Denouncing Globalism and Praising Nationalism
President Donald Trump delivered one of his harshest critiques of globalism and multilateralism on September 24 at the UN General Assembly, promoting the “America First” ideology that has defined his Presidency on issues ranging from national defense, trade, and immigration before a body built on international cooperation. President Trump read his address in a somber tone, rarely punctuating words or pausing for emphasis, but his message for the 74th UN General Assembly was clear as he argued that a view of the world as a global commons had “exerted a religious pull over past leaders” at the expense of their own nations. President Trump’s speech before the UN, an organization founded on the principle that multilateral cooperation can stop international conflicts, underscored that his administration sees little benefit in assuming much of the global leadership responsibility embraced by his predecessors.
In his 37-minute address, President Donald Trump stressed that all nations must take care of themselves first while adding that the US would get involved abroad only when its own interests were threatened. He also used his platform to take a hard line against Iran as tensions between both the US and Iran continued to escalate following an attack on a Saudi oil facility this month. “All nations have a duty to act. No responsible government should subsidize Iran’s bloodlust,” Trump said. “As long as Iran’s menacing behavior continues, sanctions will not be lifted. They will be tightened.” But Trump’s reluctance to escalate the standoff with Iran into a military confrontation was on display shortly after his speech when he teased a potential meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, saying that Iran “would like to negotiate” but that the two sides had not agreed to that “yet.”
For a majority of his address, President Donald Trump highlighted his nationalist perspective in a multitude of areas, particularly trade and immigration, two issues that helped catapult him into the White House. Regarding immigration, President Trump issued his characteristic warnings to migrants from Central America making the journey to the US southern border, saying that “If you make it here, you will not be allowed in; you will be promptly returned home.” His message for those who he claims are advocates of “open border” policies was starker. “Your policies are not just. Your policies are cruel and evil,” Trump said. “You put your own false sense of virtue before the lives, well-being, and countless innocent people. When you undermine border security, you are undermining human rights and human dignity.”
President Donald Trump said his approach to trade could be best understood through his policies toward China, a country with which the US is embroiled in an escalating trade war. China, Trump said, has “embraced an economic model dependent on massive market barriers, heavy state subsidies, currency manipulation, product dumping, forced technology transfers, and theft of intellectual property.” He called for an overhaul of the World Trade Organization, arguing that China should not be able to use it to “game the system at other’s expense.” “I will not accept a bad deal for the American people,” Trump said.
3. UK Supreme Court Censures PM Boris Johnson For Actions Regarding Brexit Plan, Threatening His Hold On Power
The UK Supreme Court dealt Prime Minister Boris Johnson a staggering blow on September 24, unanimously ruling that he acted unlawfully in suspending Parliament this month during a crucial countdown to the country’s departure from the European Union (EU). The ruling, which immediately sparked calls for Johnson’s resignation, throws the already messy Brexit process into a next-level degree of disarray. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in New York for the UN General Assembly meeting, announced that he would follow the ruling although he “profoundly” disagreed with it. Even in a three-year Brexit saga filled with extraordinary twists and turns, the Supreme Court confrontation stood out, raising questions about the rule of law, the role of Parliament and the government’s relationship with the UK’s long-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. The queen is supposed to remain above the political fray and serve as a symbol of national unity, but Johnson’s tenure as Prime Minister has seen her drawn into the Brexit drama. The monarch, by long tradition, grants permission for a parliamentary suspension requested by the prime minister. The Supreme Court ruling, however, strongly suggested that Johnson misled the queen about his reasons for suspending lawmakers’ work, which was, in the eyes of some critics, an unforgivable offense.
The UK is scheduled to leave the EU in roughly one month, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted he wants to negotiate a withdrawal accord with the bloc. But the Prime Minister, who took office two months ago, has not committed to obeying a law passed by Parliament this month saying that if he cannot produce such an accord, he must seek a delay. Johnson’s seeming game of chicken with EU officials alarmed lawmakers, including many from the Prime Minister’s Conservative Party. Leaving without a withdrawal agreement could threaten supplies of some food and medicines and impact supply chains, according to scenarios produced by Johnson’s own government. Economists, who generally say that even a negotiated departure would harm the British economy, say a no-deal exit would be a shock that could plunge the country into recession.
Brexit has caused enormous upheaval in British politics, driving out two Prime Ministers and putting unprecedented strains on the country’s democratic institutions. Now Johnson’s grip on power could be imperiled. Michael Gordon, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Liverpool, called the ruling “astonishing,” adding that “It’s difficult to imagine how it could be more disastrous” for Johnson’s government. Even as Johnson’s allies insisted he would not change course on Brexit, his political opponents said his position had become untenable. Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn interrupted his party conference in the seaside city of Brighton to call for the election of “a government that respects democracy.” “I invite Boris Johnson … to consider his position and become the shortest-serving prime minister there has ever been,” he said. Jo Swinson, the leader of the opposition Liberal Democrats, said Johnson was “not fit to be prime minister.”
4. Israeli Election Results Point To Split Parliament, Possibility of Unity Government
Israel’s second election in fewer than six months has ended in political deadlock, leaving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing an uncertain future and paving the way for protracted coalition negotiations. As the official count filtered in on September 28, neither side emerged with a clear path to government. As pre-election polls had predicted, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right-wing Likud party together with allied right-wing nationalist and religious parties fell well short of securing the 61 seats required for a parliamentary majority. But so did his principal opponent Benny Gantz, who leads the nominally centrist Blue and White political party. With 91% of the votes counted, Blue and White had 32 seats, with Likud on 31. It remains to be seen which of the two leaders Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, who occupies a largely ceremonial role, will ask to form a coalition.
Because of the extremely close results of the Israeli elections, it is likely that a national unity government would be formed, bringing together the two largest political parties as well as a few minor political parties. Benny Gantz and secular nationalist leader Avigdor Lieberman, who polled strongly, have endorsed the idea of a liberal national unity government coming into power. A possible roadblock to this from occurring is the fact that Gantz has refused to sit in a government with Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently being investigated for corruption in three separate charges. Another possible outcome would be for a third election to be held assuming that the political deadlock cannot be solved.
Overall, despite the possibility of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being forced to step down from power, the next Israeli government will likely keep a majority of his foreign policy decisions in place. While expressing opposition to the current Israeli proposal to annex Palestinian territories in the occupied West Bank, Benny Gantz has yet to outright endrose a two state solution with the Palestinian people and instead has called for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel with limited sovereignty. Additionally, Gantz similarly has expressed support for launching a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear and military facilities and is accused of encouraging war crimes against the Palestinian people during the 2012 and 2014 Gaza Wars in his capacity as the Israeli military chief of staff.