Trump will be in London when work starts on impeachment report – but don’t rule out his re-election

Tomorrow (Wednesday NZ Time) the US house of Representatives Judiciary Committee begins drafting a possible impeachment of President Donald J Trump. He will be safely in London attending the NATO 70th summit and if he heeds Boris Johnson, he will keep out of the UK election campaign.

The Congress has now reached a critical phase in the impeachment process.  The House Intelligence Committee has heard evidence in camera along with several very public hearings last week.

This committee is wrapping up its report to the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New Yorker not well disposed to the president.  At the weekend he invited President Trump to appear before the committee. Continue reading “Trump will be in London when work starts on impeachment report – but don’t rule out his re-election”

Breaking news: Trump’s economic policies are inconsistent (also Pope admits catholicism)

Amidst the hurly-burly of impeachment, America’s economic policy seems almost a diversion.  A recent assessment by Canadian economist David Henderson provides a pithy summary of Trump’s successes and failures, and in the process raises some interesting questions on how right-of-centre political parties might need to adapt their policies. Continue reading “Breaking news: Trump’s economic policies are inconsistent (also Pope admits catholicism)”

From litigation to negotiation – Peters is back in pursuit of an FTA with the USA

After a trying week in court Foreign Minister Winston Peters will find some relief next week when he heads to Washington DC to take part in a security conference and continue his campaign for a free trade agreement with the US. The conference will focus on security issues in the Middle East and the containment of ISIS.

NZ has made considerable progress along the path to an FTA since Peters’ earlier visits and he will be aiming to consolidate the efforts by officials.  MFAT’s senior trade negotiator Vangelis Vitalis has been in the US capital this week.

Peters first raised the FTA almost a year ago and encouraging signs have continued to be shown by the US although its trade negotiators have been submerged in a high-level agenda ranging from China (in which a staged settlement will phase down tariffs, particularly those doing the most damage, for example on Chinese electronics imports) to the European Union and possibly the UK post-Brexit. Continue reading “From litigation to negotiation – Peters is back in pursuit of an FTA with the USA”

Polls show why an unpopular Trump might still be re-elected

It’s a year to the US presidential election.  With an unconventional president, a crowded field of Democratic party hopefuls and the possibility of an impeachment trial, American politics appear even more uncertain than usual.  

But a survey of 15,000 American voters undertaken by opinion polling guru Lord Ashcroft (a rich and maverick member of Britain’s Conservative party) throws up some interesting nuggets.

You might not be surprised that the poll finds Trump is unpopular (56% disapprove of his performance versus 40% who approve) – or even that 44% of all those polled strongly disapprove. Continue reading “Polls show why an unpopular Trump might still be re-elected”

Impeachment hearings to be brought into a public arena but polls show Trump retains strong support

In Washington DC the lines have been drawn and the parties are gearing up for what looks to be a mighty contest as the Democrats prepare to try to impeach President Donald Trump. They won a testy contest in the House of Representatives on Thursday winning a motion to proceed by only 232 to 196.

Two Democratic congressmen voted against, understandably, as they are from Republican-leaning districts.

The Democrats are keen to have the impeachment process over before Christmas to prevent it spilling over into early next year when the selection process for a presidential candidate to challenge Trump.

This motion sets the procedures for public hearings and largely negates the Republicans’ argument that so far the hearings, which have produced some damning evidence on how the president coupled the supply of military aid to Ukraine (mainly Javelin anti-tank missiles) with a requirement that Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky announce investigations into  Biden, his son and other Democrats.

Should the actual motion to impeach win in the lower House, the question moves to the Senate. A trial heard before the Chief Justice could proceed. Continue reading “Impeachment hearings to be brought into a public arena but polls show Trump retains strong support”

Who made the bigger mistake in Syria: Trump or Putin?

This blog asked whether Donald Trump might have made a serious error – perhaps even a fatal one – when he acquiesced in Turkey’s attack on America’s Syrian-Kurdish allies. He managed to irritate key supporters in the US Senate and early polling suggested a drop in support for his Middle East policies among Republican voters.

Failure to stand up for allies, dislike of Turkish self-assertion, fears of an ISIS resurgence and a sense that the US was being railroaded, all seem to have played some part in this reaction.

But for an explanation of why this might work out splendidly for the US (and Donald Trump), look no further than the piece by Israeli political analyst Zev Chafets on Bloomberg. Continue reading “Who made the bigger mistake in Syria: Trump or Putin?”

The beginning of the end for Donald Trump?

Not the impeachment investigation.  Nor Ukraine. Syrian Kurds.

Last week, Turkey invaded the bit of Syria controlled by America’s Kurdish hitherto-allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he only wants to occupy a border strip to resettle Syrian refugees and create a buffer zone between Turkey’s and Syria’s Kurds to prevent “terrorism”.  He may even be telling the truth.

Trump didn’t stop him.  Indeed, he pulled American forces out of the way to let the Turks through. Continue reading “The beginning of the end for Donald Trump?”