The last few weeks of international news have all revolved around the potential impeachment of US President Donald Trump. The impeachment process initiated with Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi leading the charge, after the release of a White House phone transcript and a whistleblower complaint. The allegations revolved around how the president pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the business ties of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son — and allegedly withheld federal military aid from Ukraine to make it happen.
In simple words, The impeachment of a US president means passing of a resolution listing charges against him by a simple majority in the House of Representatives.
Can Trump Actually Be Impeached?
The impeachment process in the US is quite cumbersome and requires extensive vote bank politics to make up the numbers to actually succeed. It is essentially a two phase process. Throughout US History, The House has initiated an impeachment inquiry for three presidents, though it has only charged two with articles of impeachment.
Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both charged with articles of impeachment but acquitted by the Senate. Richard Nixon resigned before the House had the opportunity to charge him.
The impeachment motion begins with a resolution, that can be moved by any member of the House of Representatives, by mentioning the charges against the president. The motion then undergoes deliberation and discussion, and if a simple majority votes in its favour, the president stands impeached and shall face trial in the Senate. This criteria of the process have a chance of being fulfilled, due to the numerical makeup of the House. The Democrats enjoy majority in the House of Representatives with 235 out of 435 members. Donald Trump is a Republican member.
However, the second phase of the impeachment inquiry is where it starts getting tricky. If the process reaches this stage, Donal Trump will have to stand trial at the Senate, which will be presided over by the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the US. Here, the Senators will function as jury members in that trial.
At the end of the trial, the Senate would vote. If two-thirds of the Senate votes for conviction of Donald Trump, he would be removed as the US president. The vice-president, in such case, will assume the role of the president for the remainder of the term. It is where the numbers come in Trump’s favour, as the Republican Party enjoys a majority with 53 of 100 members.
Thus, The makeup of the US Congress and the Senate actually make the impeachment of Donald Trump highly unlikely.
How Will It Impact India?
Even to the casual viewer, it is understandable the uncertainty regarding Trump’s future won’t hold well for the global markets. US Markets have traditionally shown volatility in times of political uncertainty. In times like these, they’re sure to do the same.
However, the impact of the possible removal of Donald Trump is not only restricted to the US. Any impact on the largest economy in the world is surely going to trickle down to other countries at well, with India being at the forefront of it. Here’s how the situation may affect the country:-
The Stock Market
The impeachment could have a serious impact on the Indian rupee. A possible impeachment may lead to a risk-off shift favouring US assets by portfolio managers. This ultimately will lead to stronger demand for the US dollar, signalling a weaker rupee. For the Indian markets, any sharp up-move in the global value of the US Dollar, against a basket of six currencies, would mean chaos. The rising value of the dollar can lead to a flight towards safety for global funds and thereby, a sell-off in equity markets.
Oil prices could be the first commodity casualty as the ongoing impeachment motion will mean that trade talks could be on the back burner. A likely growth slowdown is expected to keep oil prices depressed.
Diplomatic Ties and Policies
India- US ties are at a strong position currently, with both the governments favouring each other’s stand and strategy at the international level. The recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US was a testament of that. Since Trump’s appointment, India has invested a lot of diplomatic and economic capital betting on Trump taking a pro-India approach. While how the exact situation will play out cant be predicted in advance, India will surely stand to lose if Donald Trump is asked to vacate office.