If you’re assuming the impeachment brawl that’s unfolding in Washington will lead to Donald Trump’s demise, hold up.
It was always possible (that is, likely) that going down this path could backfire on the Democrats, and while there’s some distance yet to travel in this sorry saga, some of the early numbers are worth your attention.
First, since the impeachment inquiry was announced Mr Trump’s approval ratings haven’t slumped as his opponents hoped. In one poll, his overall job performance actually hit its highest level this year, reaching 49 per cent. That’s just shy of his best, 51 per cent, in December 2018.
But other polls have pundits thinking twice, as support for impeachment is growing among Democrats and independents. So can Mr Trump can win in 2020 on Republican support alone, or does he need those independent voters he won over in 2016?
Eeesh, we’re not even into 2020 yet and the pesky polls are already causing us problems.
Anyway, before you even start twisting your brain around that, there’s another set of numbers worth considering.
Trump’s fundraising is skyrocketing
Just as Mr Trump, the former reality TV star, is deft at turning any publicity into good publicity, he is also a skilled opportunist when it comes to monetizing it.
It took less than six hours after Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry for the Trump campaign to launch an all-out fundraising blitz.
They don’t waste time trying to turn news into money in this country
It took less than 48 hours for the campaign to rake in $US13 million and 50,000 new donors, according to Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale.
For reference, that’s more than most of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls have raised in total.
Poll numbers in. Fundraising numbers in. #winning How is the campaign feeling:
Mr Trump and the Republican National Committee raised a whopping $US125 million in the third quarter, putting the total amount raised around $US300 million, more than double what then-president Barack Obama had at this point during his 2011 re-election bid.
Republicans appear united in opposition to impeachment
The Republican National Committee and Trump campaign have already said they’ll spend $US10 million on anti-impeachment cable ads to keep the momentum going.
Donald Trump took to YouTube to call out Joe Biden’s «corruption».
Recent polls suggest up to 92 per cent of Republicans oppose impeachment. As you’d expect, voters are diametrically opposed on the issue depending on their political bent.
With that in mind, some Republican politicians have been circling the wagons, vocally supporting the President at every opportunity.
They’re likely thinking about those independents still on the fence about impeachment, right? Right.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has left no room for doubt on which horse he’s backing in a letter he penned to Australia’s Scott Morrison and the Prime Ministers of Italy and the United Kingdom.
TODAY: Chairman @LindseyGrahamSC urges Prime Ministers of Australia, Italy and the United Kingdom to continue working with AG Barr as @TheJusticeDept investigates the origins & extent of foreign influence in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
He urges the leaders to continue their cooperation with US Attorney-General William Barr as he oversees a probe into the origins of the Mueller report.
Mr Graham’s letter follows the revelation that the President asked the Australian Prime Minister for help with the investigation.
However, Mr Graham goes further, embracing the 007 plotline that then-Australian high commissioner to the UK Alexander Downer was part of an elaborate international spying conspiracy (which subsequently triggered the long-running Mueller inquiry, dubbed a witch hunt by the President).
Mr Graham writes that Mr Downer was «directed to contact [Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos] and relay information obtained from Papadopoulos regarding the campaign to the Federal Bureau of Investigation».
Australia’s response to Senator Lindsey Graham
Australian ambassador to the US Joe Hockey wrote back on Mr Morrison’s behalf, assuring Mr Graham that «the Australian Government is cooperating with Attorney-General Barr’s inquiry».
And «In your letter you mention the role of an Australian Diplomat. We reject your characterisation of his role.»
There’s (as yet) no evidence to suggest that anyone was «directing» Mr Downer to contact Mr Papadopoulos and extract information from him as part of a broader anti-Trump scheme between Australia and other governments.
And yet among Republicans and America’s right-wing media outlets this talking point just will not go away.
The media is one of Trump’s key campaign tools
A former New York Times reporter, James Risen, wrote this week that he believed it was his 2015 story about Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and Ukraine that served as the basis for the President’s recent interest in the matter.
Mr Trump alleges that Mr Biden, when vice-president, threatened to withhold aid money from Ukraine unless it fired a corrupt prosecutor. That’s true. But Mr Trump said Mr Biden’s motive was that the prosecutor was investigating a gas company that employed the younger Biden at a rate of $US50,000 a month. That’s not quite right.»
The suggestion that the senior Biden did something wrong has been widely debunked. And though the younger Biden has done plenty of things that weren’t ideal for campaign optics, his connection to Ukraine hasn’t been proved to be illegal.
Remember it was the President’s request that Ukraine investigate the Bidens that triggered this whole impeachment thing. (Oh and he’s now suggested the Chinese should get involved as well.)
Risen, the journalist, feels that the facts of his story have been twisted to fit a false narrative that Republicans have regurgitated.
«Many observers now seem to think this suddenly hot story came out of nowhere this year, but that is not true,» he writes.
«The truth behind that story has been lost in a swamp of right-wing opposition research, White House lies, and bizarre follow-up stories.»
So far, Mr Trump has failed to piece together a story about the Bidens that the press has been able to make stand up. In fact, Risen, wasn’t the only journalist to have already looked into the story to no real avail.
And yet, the President has still managed to suck the oxygen out of everything, to the detriment of his Democratic opponent.
In a classic case of any publicity is good publicity, Mr Trump’s tweets and speeches have dominated the domestic conversation, but few media outlets have mentioned Mr Biden with the same frequency. He’s simply not top of mind.
And as for the other 2020 Democratic candidates?
It’s as if the US has altogether forgotten there’s a primary race on.
Even congressional Democrats are in trouble, as the impending impeachment battle will likely overshadow their policy agenda. Mr Trump and the Republicans have not hesitated to make that point.
The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, 223-306. Get a better candidate this time, you’ll need it!
With 13 months until the election, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has gone to great lengths to say the impeachment process will be short and sweet.
One US media outlet, FiveThirtyEight, reckons the Democrats might have articles of impeachment drafted by Thanksgiving and sent to the Senate early next year. That’s just in time for the starting gun to kick off the election campaign proper.
But with the Trump camp already resisting testifying, you can expect at least a few precious campaign months to pass by before any conclusions are reached.
I’m concerned with aspects of the Committee’s request that can be understood only as an attempt to intimidate, bully, & treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State, including several career FSOs.
So as Democrats spend policy-making time focusing on impeachment, the Trump camp will continue to use money and prime media space to fight it.
Remember those independent voters we mentioned? It’s anyone’s guess where they’ll land.