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17th May 2017

Impeachment drawing nearer for Donald Trump, according to US senator

Feeling the heat

Conor Heneghan

The US president is feeling the heat following revelations by former director of the FBI, James Comey, on Tuesday.

Republican senator Angus King told CNN that the possibility of impeaching Donald Trump is getting closer after it emerged that the president asked former director of the FBI, James Comey, to shut down an investigation into Mike Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor.

According to a report in the New York Times, Comey wrote a memo shortly after a meeting with Trump in the White House in February, detailing that he was told ‘I hope you can let this go’ in relation to the investigation into Flynn, who was forced to resign from his position earlier this year.

In the memo, which Comey wrote after a meeting which took place the day following Flynn’s resignation, Trump is alleged to have said to the former FBI director: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.

“He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

In response, Comey, who was fired by Donald Trump last week, merely agreed that Flynn was a good guy without suggesting that the investigation was to be brought to an end.

A statement issued by The White House denied Comey’s account of his meeting with Trump in February, saying that it was “not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey”.

“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the statement read.

“The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

Despite the White House denials, the latest revelations have caused a political storm in the United States, with the possibility of impeaching the president having even been mentioned.

Asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer if the impeachment process could be a possibility, Republican senator Angus King said: “Reluctantly, Wolf, I have to say yes.”

“If indeed the President tried to tell the director of the FBI, who worked for him, that he should drop an investigation, whether it was Michael Flynn or whether it was some investigation that had nothing to do with Russia or politics or the election, that’s a very serious matter,” King added.

While the prospect of impeachment has been bandied about in the wake of Comey’s revelations, actually setting it in motion is another matter altogether.

No president has ever been removed from office in the United States; Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson were impeached and subsequently acquitted, while Richard Nixon resigned before the impeachment process could begin.

If it was deemed, meanwhile, that Trump was guilty of one of the ‘high crimes and misdemeanours’ worthy of impeachment, it would have to be supported by a two-thirds majority in the Senate, which would require a significant number of Trump’s party to turn against him.

Nevertheless, the fallout from the latest episode in Trump’s tumultuous presidency is bound to be interesting.