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Impeachment and the Wider World

As with the proceedings against former US Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump is ultimately a domestic political issue that will be decided in the US Congress. But, unlike those earlier cases, the Ukraine scandal threatens to jam up the entire machinery of US foreign policy.

STOCKHOLM – Once again, the United States is undergoing the profound drama of presidential impeachment proceedings. But, unlike in the past, this time the implications for the rest of the world could be substantial.

Consider the two modern precursors to today’s impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump’s effort to persuade Ukraine’s government to announce a criminal investigation of one of his leading Democratic challengers, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Biden’s son. The first was the slow-brewing crisis that began with a midnight break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s offices in 1972, and went on to consume the US political system for two years, culminating in President Richard Nixon’s resignation in August 1974. The second was the special counsel investigation of President Bill Clinton, who was impeached in the US House of Representatives in 1998, but acquitted by the Senate in February 1999.

In both cases, the roots of the crisis were domestic. Nixon was accused of misusing his office for domestic political ends, and then of obstructing the investigation. Clinton was accused of perjury and other abuses relating to his personal behavior. The case against Trump is very different: US foreign policy is at its very center.

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