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Spinoff Trump Cases Will Continue Long After Mueller Report 

The nearly 2-year-old probe into potential ties between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian election interference has come to an end.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday submitted his confidential report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

But will Mueller’s report be the end of the story?

Hardly. Prosecutors from outside the special counsel’s office, including the U.S. attorney’s offices in New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C., are all pursuing cases that have spun off from the Mueller investigation.

State investigators in New York and Maryland have ongoing Trump-related investigations. And in Congress, the House and Senate intelligence and other committees are actively looking into Trump’s finances, potential Russia-Trump ties and other matters.

Besides Mueller, here’s a rundown of who’s investigating what:

​Violations of federal campaign finance law. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is investigating Trump’s role in silencing former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film actress Stormy Daniels with hush payments in August and October 2016, respectively. The two women have previously claimed to have had affairs with President Trump.

Inauguration funding. Trump’s inaugural committee received a subpoena in February 2019 from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Federal prosecutors are looking into where the money raised and spent by the Trump inauguration committee, $107 million, came from and where it went.

​Paul Manafort’s activity. In March, a Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, on 16 counts of mortgage fraud and conspiracy. The state-level indictment came after Manafort was sentenced in federal court in Alexandria and Washington, D.C., to more than seven years in prison for a host of crimes.

Trump Super PAC Funding. Federal prosecutors are examining whether foreigners illegally funneled donations to the pro-Trump super PAC “Rebuilding America Now.” U.S. law prohibits foreign nationals from giving to federal campaigns, PACs and inaugural funds.

Russian Accountant Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova. The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia indicted Khusyaynova in October 2018 for conspiracy to defraud the United States by interfering in the 2016 presidential elections and 2018 midterm elections.

Turkish Influence. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is cooperating with federal prosecutors in eastern Virginia in a criminal case against two former associates. The two worked on behalf of a Turkish entrepreneur who financed a campaign to discredit Fethullah Gülen, the cleric accused by the Turkish government of helping instigate a failed coup. Flynn pleaded guilty Dec. 1, 2017, to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and his plea agreement includes some details of the Turkish case.

Trump Foundation Tax Case. The New York Attorney General’s Office is collaborating with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to look into possible criminal charges against the now-defunct Donald J. Trump Foundation for alleged tax evasion and aggressive pursuit of tax breaks. Trump agreed to dissolve the charity in December 2018.

​Emoluments Lawsuit. The state of Maryland and the District of Columbia have sued President Trump for allegedly violating two anti-corruption provisions of the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs say Trump has violated the so-called Domestic Emoluments Clause, which prohibits the president from accepting gifts from states and the Foreign Emoluments Clause, which bans him from accepting payments from foreign governments.

Roger Stone and WikiLeaks. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and Mueller’s office are jointly prosecuting the case against Trump’s longtime adviser and confidante, Roger Stone. Stone was charged with witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to Congress about Democrats’ emails stolen by Russian hackers and published by the website WikiLeaks before 2016 election. Stone, now under a judge’s gag order, has pleaded not guilty.

Masood Farivar contributed to this report.

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Trump to Nominate Stephen Moore for Fed Board

President Donald Trump said Friday that he will nominate Stephen Moore, a conservative economic analyst, to fill a vacancy on the Federal Reserve’s seven-member board.

Moore, a well-known and often polarizing figure in Washington political circles, served as an economic adviser to Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. In that role, he helped draft Trump’s tax cut plan.

Trump has been harshly critical of the Fed’s rate increases last year even after the central bank this week announced that it foresees no hikes this year. Moore, who has served as chief economist for the conservative Heritage Foundation, has also been critical of policy moves made by Chairman Jerome Powell, who was hand-picked by Trump to be Fed chairman.

An ardent defender of tax cuts, Moore is close to Larry Kudlow, head of the White House National Economic Council. The two collaborated in shaping the tax overhaul that Trump signed into law at the end of 2017, leading to changes that largely favored tax cuts for corporations and wealthier Americans with the idea of spurring investment and faster growth.

Reshaping Central Bank

Trump in his first two years in office has been able to reshape the central bank. He nominated four of the current five members. And he tapped Powell, a Republican who had been chosen for the Fed board by President Barack Obama, to succeed Janet Yellen as chairman. If confirmed by the Senate, Moore would fill one of two vacancies on the Fed’s board.

The selection of Moore marks a deviation from Trump’s previous selections for the Fed’s board to a highly visible public figure who has long pushed conservative economic ideology. In a March editorial in The Wall Street Journal, Moore estimated that Fed rate policies had reduced inflation-adjusted economic growth by as much as 1.5 percentage points in the past six months. Moore proposed that the Fed set short-term rates with an eye toward stabilizing commodity prices, rather than solely on overall inflation.

This approach, Moore has argued, would have prevented the Fed from raising rates as much as it has. And he contended that the approach, if adopted, would help accelerate economic growth above 3 percent, compared with the longer-run average of 1.9 percent that Fed officials have forecast.

Moore has frequently praised the administration on television, and he co-wrote the 2018 book “Trumponomics.” His partner on that book was Art Laffer, who pioneered the Republican doctrine that lower tax rates would accelerate economic growth in ways that could minimize debt. Federal debt has jumped since Trump’s overhaul to the tax code, surging nearly 77 percent through the first four months of fiscal 2019 compared with the previous year.

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Lawmakers Call for Release of Full Report on Russia Investigation

Special counsel Robert Mueller has completed a long-awaited report on his investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and any potential wrongdoing by President Donald Trump, drawing calls from lawmakers for the report to be released.

Mueller handed the report Friday to the Justice Department, headed by Attorney General William Barr, who is now reviewing it.


WATCH: After Months of Anticipation, Mueller Probe Concludes

The results of the report are still confidential, but the Justice Department confirmed that it includes no new indictments.

Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official, said he could update Congress as early as this weekend about the findings in the report, which concluded Mueller’s nearly two-year-long investigation.

It is not clear how much of the report will be provided to Congress or how much will become public.

​Congressional Democrats

Top congressional Democrats said it was “imperative” to make the full report public. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement, “The American people have a right to the truth.”

They also said that Barr must not give Trump any “sneak preview” of the findings or evidence.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the White House had not received or been briefed on the report and that “we look forward to the process taking its course.’’ She said the next steps were “up to Attorney General Barr.”

The Associated Press reported that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani had requested an early look at the findings before they are made public, but had not received any assurances that the Trump legal team would get a preview.

​Congressional Republicans

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hoped that Barr would “provide as much information as possible” on the findings, “with as much openness and transparency as possible.”

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said he expected the Justice Department to release the report to the committee without delay “and to the maximum extent permitted by law.”

Another top Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said the findings must be made public to end the “speculation and innuendo” that hangs over Trump’s administration.

​34 people have been charged

It is not known whether Mueller found what he deemed to be criminal conduct by Trump or any of his staff, beyond the charges already brought against several aides. So far, Mueller has brought charges against 34 people, including Russian intelligence officers, and three Russian companies. Charges have also been filed against Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

The Democratic heads of five House committees wrote a joint letter Friday to Barr, saying, “If the special counsel has reason to believe that the president has engaged in criminal or other serious misconduct, then the Justice Department has an obligation not to conceal such information. The president must be subject to accountability.”

In a letter to Congress, Barr said that the Justice Department did not block Mueller from taking any action during the investigation. Barr is required to report to Congress any instance in which the Justice Department overruled a requested action by Mueller.

Trump’s lawyers, Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, issued joint statements Friday saying they were “pleased” that Mueller had delivered his report on the Russia investigation.

A spokesman for Mueller said he would be concluding his services as special counsel in the coming days and that a small number of staff would remain to assist in closing the office’s operations.

The central questions that Mueller, a former FBI director, has been examining are whether Trump or his aides colluded with the Russians to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 and whether the president attempted to obstruct the subsequent investigation to protect himself and his political advisers and aides.

Trump has denied any collusion and obstruction, and has called the investigation a “witch hunt.” Russia has denied interfering in the election.

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Trump Says He Did Not Know About Kushner’s WhatsApp Messaging

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said he knew nothing about son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner’s use of the WhatsApp encrypted messaging tool, a day after a top U.S. Democratic congressman questioned the unofficial communications.

On Thursday, U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings asked the White House about Kushner’s use of the unofficial messaging application as part of his government work.

In a letter to the White House, seen by Reuters, Cummings said Kushner’s lawyer had told lawmakers about his WhatsApp use for official duties, a move that would violate current law prohibiting White House officials from using non-official electronic messaging accounts.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for Mar-A-Lago, his private club in Florida, for the weekend, denied any knowledge of Kushner’s unofficial communications.

“I know nothing about it. I’ve never heard that, I’ve never heard about it,” the Republican president said.

Cummings in his letter on Thursday said Kushner lawyer Abbe Lowell also told Congress that Ivanka Trump — the president’s daughter, Kushner’s wife and also a top White House adviser — continued to use a personal email account for official business.

That would also violate the Presidential Records Act.

‘Not completely accurate’

Lowell, in a separate letter to Cummings, called the Democratic committee chairman’s characterization of earlier comments “not completely accurate.”

The lawyer denied telling Congress members Kushner had communicated through any app with foreign “leaders” or “officials” but said that instead Kushner had used such apps for communicating with “some people,” whom he did not specify.

Lowell also denied saying that Ivanka Trump continued to receive emails related to official business on a personal account. He said Ivanka Trump “always forwards official business to her White House account.”

In the 2016 presidential race, Trump railed against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state, inspiring chants at his rallies of “lock her up.” The FBI and the Department of Justice investigated Clinton but brought no charges.

Kushner’s communications, particularly with foreign leaders, have been under scrutiny since the presidential campaign, and questions have been raised about his security clearance.

WhatsApp is owned by Facebook Inc.

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US Reportedly Gives Tacit OK to Taiwan’s Fighter Jet Shopping List

A senior U.S. State Department official said arms sales to Taiwan are “a matter of a policy in the United States that Taiwan’s defensive needs are merited,” adding “China has been busy changing the status quo” that has maintained long-standing peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, including threats to use force against Taiwan.

Thursday, Bloomberg News, quoting unnamed sources, reported that the Trump administration has given tacit approval to Taiwan’s request to buy more than 60 F-16 fighter jets. Taiwan had submitted a formal request earlier this month. The United States is Taiwan’s largest military equipment supplier.

“As a matter of policy, the Department does not comment or confirm proposed defense sales or transfers until formally notified to Congress,” a State Department spokesperson told VOA.

China, which claims democratically self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, usually condemns such sales.

China changing status quo

In a phone briefing, Patrick Murphy, the State Department’s principal deputy assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told VOA that arms sales to Taiwan “are allowed under the framework” of Washington’s “One China Policy,” which is based on three U.S.-China joint communications and the Taiwan Relations Act enacted in 1979 to govern relations between the United States and Taiwan.

“Our primary desire is to see a strong commitment to the status quo” that “has brought about peace, stability and prosperity,” Murphy said.

He added China is changing the status quo by threatening “the use of violence directed at Taiwan, aggressively trying to “reduce the number of diplomatic partners that Taiwan enjoys around the world,” and “cropping Taiwan out of the international space and international organizations where Taiwan has made important contributions to public health, civil aviation and many more.”

In 2018, China persuaded the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso and El Salvador to forge relations with Beijing, which leaves 17 countries that still recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation.

Tour of Pacific allies

On Thursday, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen embarked on a diplomatic tour to allies in the Pacific that will end with a stopover in Hawaii on March 27.

China urged the United States to block Tsai’s transit through Hawaii on her way home.

“We have consistently and resolutely opposed the United States or other countries which have diplomatic relations with China arranging this kind of transit,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Thursday.

In 2011, the Obama administration rejected a similar Taiwanese request for F-16 fighter jets over concern about antagonizing China.

The Trump administration, however, has taken a more assertive approach toward China. Vice President Mike Pence, in remarks on China policy last year at the Hudson Institute, accused the Chinese Communist Party of “rewarding or coercing American businesses, movie studios, universities, think tanks, scholars, journalists, and local, state and federal officials.”

“Worst of all, China has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections,” Pence added.

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Interference in Elections? The View From Moscow

As U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller prepares to file a report of his findings in the investigation into Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election, pressure over how to handle his conclusions is building in the U.S. The Kremlin strongly denies meddling and says it is a victim of the U.S. political infighting. But what do Russian citizens know of Mueller’s work and the accusations? VOA’s Igor Tsikhanenka discussed the topic with experts in Moscow.

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Waiting for Mueller Report, and What Happens Next

America is waiting for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. But anyone looking for a grand narrative on President Donald Trump, Russian election interference and all the details uncovered over the past 22 months could end up disappointed. 


The timing of Mueller’s endgame is unclear. Attorney General William Barr, who oversees the investigation, has said he wants to release as much information as he can about the inquiry into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia’s efforts to sway the 2016 election. But during his confirmation hearing last month, Barr said he ultimately would decide what the public sees, and that any report would be in his words, not Mueller’s. 


Some key questions: 


What happens when the investigation ends?

Mueller will have to turn in a report of some kind when he’s done. It could be a pretty bare-bones product. 


Justice Department regulations require only that Mueller give the attorney general a confidential report that explains the decisions to pursue or decline prosecutions. That could be as simple as a bullet point list or as fulsome as a report running hundreds of pages. 


Mueller has given no guidance on what it will be or when it will come, but signs a conclusion is coming soon have mounted in recent months.  

Matthew Whitaker, who was acting attorney general before Barr was confirmed, said in January that the investigation was nearly done. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, has been preparing to leave his post soon. The number of prosecutors working for Mueller has dwindled, and his team, which had sought an interview with the president, has not had meaningful dialogue with Trump’s lawyers in months.

Mueller also hasn’t filed any new cases in two months. 


What does Barr say he’ll do?

Barr said he envisioned two reports, and only one for congressional and public consumption. 


Barr has said he takes seriously the “shall be confidential” part of the regulations governing Mueller’s report. He has noted that department protocol says internal memos explaining charging decisions should not be released. 


During his confirmation hearing, Barr said he would draft, after Mueller turned in his report, a second one for the chairman and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees. But here again, the regulations provide little guidance for what such a report would say. 


The attorney general is required only to say the investigation has concluded and describe or explain any times when he or Rosenstein decided an action Mueller proposed “was so inappropriate or unwarranted” that it should not be pursued. 


Barr indicated that he expected to use his report to share the results of Mueller’s investigation with the public, which the regulations allow him to do. But he hedged on specifics and said his plans could change after speaking with Mueller and Rosenstein. 

​What will Trump do?

Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has said the president’s legal team wants to review any report before it’s released. Giuliani also raised the prospect that Trump’s lawyers could try to invoke executive privilege to prevent the disclosure of any confidential conversation the president has had with his aides. 


It’s not clear whether the president’s lawyers will get an advance look at Mueller’s conclusions. Mueller, after all, reports to the Justice Department, not the White House. 


Barr himself seemed to dismiss that idea. When Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked Barr whether Trump and his lawyers would be able to put their own spin on the report before its release, Barr replied: “That will not happen.” 


Will there be a final news conference?

It seems unlikely, especially if prosecutors plan to discuss people they never charged.  

Then-FBI Director James Comey broke from Justice Department protocol in extraordinary fashion with his July 2016 news conference announcing the FBI would not recommend criminal charges against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server. Barr has made clear his disapproval of Comey’s public move. 


“If you’re not going to indict someone, you don’t stand up there and unload negative information about the person,” Barr said. 


There have been times when the department has elaborated on decisions not to pursue criminal charges. Also, there is some precedent for special counsels appointed by the Justice Department to hold news conferences. 


Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel who investigated the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame and who was granted even broader authority than Mueller, held a 2005 news conference when he charged I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. But even then, Fitzgerald drew a clear line. 


One of the obligations of the prosecutors and the grand juries is to keep the information obtained in the investigation secret, not to share it with the public,'' Fitzgerald said then.And as frustrating as that may be for the public, that is important because, the way our system of justice works, if information is gathered about people and they’re not charged with a crime, we don’t hold up that information for the public to look at. We either charge them with a crime or we don’t.” 

​Can Congress subpoena Mueller and his report?

Sure. Powerful Democratic committee chairmen have said as much. 


House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York has raised the prospect of subpoenaing the report and calling Mueller before Congress to ask him about his findings. So has Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Democrats also want all of Mueller’s underlying evidence, including interview transcripts and documents.

Schiff says he’s watching Barr’s moves carefully to see if he were to try to bury any part of this report.'' He says anything less than complete disclosure would leave Barr witha tarnished legacy.” 


Many Republicans have also argued that the full report should be released. And the House voted 420-0 this month for a resolution calling for any final report to be made public. Still, many allies of the president have stopped short of saying it should be subpoenaed.

Trump, as the leader of the executive branch, could direct the Justice Department to defy the subpoena, setting the stage for a court fight that would almost certainly go to the Supreme Court. 

Will Trump be able to see the report?

It is unclear whether Trump will ask to see the report and under what circumstances he or his attorneys might be able to view it, especially because the document is meant to be confidential for Justice Department leadership. 


Barr said at his confirmation hearing that he would not permit White House interference in the investigation. But he also has voiced an expansive view of executive power in which the president functions as the country’s chief law enforcement officer and has wide latitude in giving directives to the FBI and Justice Department. 


Democrats could seize on any disclosure to the president to argue that the report really isn’t confidential and should be immediately provided to them as well.

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White House Rejects Democrats’ Demands for Information on Trump-Putin Talks 

The White House has rejected a request by Democratic lawmakers to provide information about President Donald Trump’s communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to media reports on Thursday.

The White House sent its denial in a letter to Congress, according to reports by The Hill newspaper and CNN.

U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff, Eliot Engel and Elijah Cummings, the chairmen of the House of Representatives Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees, respectively, had asked the White House and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in early March for documents and interviews about Trump’s conversations with Putin.

The lawmakers expressed concern about media reports that Trump seized notes on at least one meeting with the Russian leader and tried to destroy records about those talks.

In his response, White House counsel Pat Cipollone said a president’s communications with foreign leaders are confidential and protected by executive privilege.

“The president must be free to engage in discussions with foreign leaders without fear that those communications will be disclosed and used as fodder for partisan political purposes,” Cipollone wrote in the letter to the committee chairmen, according to The Hill.

The request for information about communications with Putin followed the powerful House Judiciary Committee’s demand for documents from a who’s who of Trump’s turbulent world, targeting 81 people, government agencies and other groups in an investigation of possible obstruction of justice or abuse of power.

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US House to Vote in April to Reinstate Net Neutrality Rules

The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives will vote in April on a bill to reinstate landmark net neutrality rules repealed by the Federal Communications Commission under President Donald Trump. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said in a letter to colleagues on Thursday, seen by Reuters, that lawmakers would vote on the “Save the Internet Act” during the week of April 8. 

The bill mirrors an effort last year to reverse the FCC’s December 2017 order that repealed rules approved in 2015 that barred providers from blocking or slowing internet content or offering paid “fast lanes.” 

The reversal of net neutrality rules was a win for internet providers like Comcast Corp., AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., but opposed by content and social media companies like Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc. 

and Alphabet Inc. 

The bill would repeal the order introduced by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, bar the FCC from reinstating it or a substantially similar order and reinstate the 2015 net neutrality order. 

Republicans oppose reinstating the 2015 rules that grant the FCC sweeping authority to oversee the conduct of internet providers. 

The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, voted in May 2018 to reinstate the rules, but the House did not take up the issue before Congress adjourned last year. The White House opposes reinstating the net neutrality rules and it is not clear that proponents will be able to force a vote in the Senate. 

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Mindful of History, Democrats Hold Off on Attempt to Impeach Trump

Democratic congressional leaders have, for the time being, ruled out pursuing impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. That could all change depending on what is in the eagerly awaited report on the Russia investigation being prepared by special counsel Robert Mueller.

On his way to Ohio Wednesday, Trump told reporters outside the White House that the public should have access to the Mueller report. 

“Let it come out. Let the people see,” Trump said. “Let’s see whether or not it is legit.”

The decision by Democratic congressional leaders to pass on impeachment seems to be mindful of recent history, especially the Republican-led impeachment effort against President Bill Clinton in 1998.

In announcing her opposition to impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said simply that Trump “wasn’t worth it.”

Pelosi is sticking to her position despite pressure from liberal activists.

“Impeachment is a divisive issue in our country, and let us see what the facts are, what the law is, and what the behavior is of the president,” Pelosi recently told reporters at the Capitol.​

WATCH: Mindful of History, Democrats Hold off on Impeaching Trump

​Trump: ‘Great job’

For President Trump, the idea of impeachment is, not surprisingly, a non-starter.

“Well, you can’t impeach somebody that is doing a great job. That is the way I view it,” Trump said when asked about the issue in January.

Late last year, Trump told Reuters that he was not concerned about impeachment.

“I think that the people would revolt if that happened,” he said.

Trump’s Republican allies in Congress are also poised to leap to his defense.

“I don’t think it is good for the country,” House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters last week. “The Democrats made a decision (to want to impeach) on the day President Trump one.”

Some Democrats want to keep pushing, including former Hillary Clinton senior adviser Philippe Reines. Reines wrote recently in the New York Times that Democrats would be doing a “civic duty” to pursue impeachment.

“There is a mounting political cost to not impeaching Mr. Trump,” Reines wrote last week. “He will hail it as exoneration and he will go into the 2020 campaign under the banner, ‘I Told You So.’”​

Polls say no

Recent polls show most voters do not favor impeachment at this time. A Quinnipiac University poll earlier this month found that 59 percent of those surveyed do not think House Democrats should initiate impeachment proceedings against the president, while 35 percent support the idea.

Given that the 2020 election cycle is underway, Democrats may prefer to have the voters try to oust Trump during next year’s election, according to George Washington University analyst Matt Dallek.

“By the time impeachment proceedings were even to ramp up, you are talking about the end of 2019 or early 2020,” Dallek told VOA this week. “That creates its own complication because there is another remedy for removing a president and it is called the election.”

​Political risk

Democrats clearly recall what happened to Bill Clinton in 1998. Clinton lied about and tried to cover up his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, which led to his impeachment by the House. Clinton remained in office after he was acquitted in a trial in the Senate.

Historically, impeachment has been a rare event. Clinton was only the second president impeached by the House. Andrew Johnson was the first back in 1868. Johnson avoided removal by a single vote in the Senate.

Presidential impeachments have been rare and that is by design, according to University of Virginia expert Larry Sabato.

“They (the founders) did not want presidents impeached and convicted and thrown out of office for minor offenses. They expected Congress to do it only in extreme circumstances.”

Republicans paid a price for the Clinton impeachment, losing five House seats in the 1998 midterm elections. And Sabato said that lesson could have resonance for Democrats today as they mull impeaching Trump.

“Given the fact that the Republicans took a wounded Bill Clinton and made him almost invulnerable for the rest of his term, it should serve as a warning to Democrats,” he said.

Experts also note that the damage to Republicans from the Clinton impeachment was not long-lasting. George W. Bush narrowly beat Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election, and the political fallout from Clinton’s scandal may have cost Gore the presidency.

​Senate obstacle

The biggest obstacle facing any impeachment effort of Trump is the Republican-controlled Senate. Democrats would have to bring over at least 20 Republican senators in any impeachment trial in order to get a conviction and remove the president from office.

A vote to impeach a president only requires a majority vote in the House, now controlled by Democrats. But in a Senate trial, it would take 67 of 100 senators to vote for conviction in order to remove the president from office, and Democrats concede that is not a possibility at the moment.

“It has less than zero chance of passing the Senate,” Sabato said. “Why would you go through all this in the House of Representatives, torpedo your entire agenda to impeach Trump in order to send it to the Senate to have him exonerated and not convicted?”

​Nixon case

President Richard Nixon was not impeached over the Watergate scandal in 1974, but the process was well underway. The House began impeachment proceedings through the House Judiciary Committee and was preparing to move Articles of Impeachment to the House floor when Nixon decided to resign.

Several Republican senators including Barry Goldwater went to the White House and made it clear to Nixon that he had lost Republican support and would not survive an impeachment trial in the Senate.

Some analysts predict that President Trump could face renewed calls for his ouster depending on the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“I think if the Mueller report indicates some serious wrongdoing by the president and his campaign, it really empowers Democrats to begin deliberating how to move forward with impeachment proceedings,” said Brookings Institution scholar John Hudak.

But other experts caution that it would have to be something quite serious for Republicans to even consider abandoning the president.

Given the lack of bipartisan support for impeachment at the moment, it does seem more likely that Trump will face the voters again in 2020 before he has to contend with a Democratic-led impeachment inquiry in the House.

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