World / Crime & Legal

Impeachment cloud darkens Trump's Florida Thanksgiving break

AFP-JIJI

President Donald Trump branded his political enemies “wolves” on Tuesday ahead of leaving Washington for a campaign rally and Thanksgiving break at his Florida home already being spoiled by the growing threat of impeachment.

Before boarding Air Force One, the president was to act out the quirky annual ritual of pardoning two enormous turkeys, sparing them from the national day of feasting on Thursday.

Politics watchers, however, were less interested in the fates of the flightless birds, named Bread and Butter, than the perilous legal challenges facing Trump and his entourage as Democrats prepare to take the next step toward impeachment soon after the Thanksgiving vacation.

Trump was certainly not in a forgiving or thankful mood, lashing out on Twitter at “the D.C. Wolves and Fake News Media.”

In keeping with his favored response to moments of crisis, Trump will hold a rally later in Sunrise, Florida, giving him a chance to get away from Washington politics and to reconnect to his right-wing voter base.

The state is a key piece in the electoral puzzle for the 2020 presidential election and recently became Trump’s legal home, after he announced he was switching residence from his native New York.

Illustrating the tightness of the coming battle, Trump’s Sunrise rally arena is located in strongly pro-Democratic Broward county.

Trump can be expected to use the rally with his red-hatted core supporters to emphasize his grip on the Republican party and his readiness for what will likely be the most polarized and bitter presidential election in generations.

Forecasts are for balmy temperatures all week at Trump’s golf course and official private residence in Mar-a-Lago, on the Florida Atlantic coast.

But back in chilly Washington, Democrats plan to keep working through the Thanksgiving break on what looks like a fast track to making Trump only the third president ever to be impeached.

Although the Republican-led Senate will then almost certainly acquit him, this is not the way that Trump, who often boasts of being among the most successful U.S. presidents, wants to go down in history.

Investigators said Monday their landmark report on Trump’s alleged abuse of office, when he pushed Ukraine to announce it was probing one of his main 2020 rivals Joe Biden for corruption, could be wrapped up as early as next week.

That will open the way to lawmakers drawing up articles of impeachment.

There was more pressure on the administration late Monday when a Washington appeals court ruled that White House aides cannot continue to dodge subpoenas for testifying before the Democratic-led impeachment panel.

The administration will launch a further appeal, tying up the case, but the ruling, which applies specifically to Trump’s former White House lawyer, Don McGahn, raises the temperature.

Trump sought to downplay the development, insisting on Twitter that he doesn’t care if his top current and former associates, including his fired national security adviser John Bolton, testify.

“I would actually like people to testify,” he said Tuesday, although his administration has banned aides participating with the inquiry.

He said that McGahn “already stated that I did nothing wrong.”

Portraying himself as a victim, Trump has frequently said he is the “most unfairly treated” leader in history.

He claims the investigations into his murky relationship with Ukraine and Russia are a “hoax” and a “witch hunt,” and almost daily he gives credence to right-wing conspiracy theories that his own U.S. intelligence services have debunked.