The impeachment process kicked off by House Democrats in late September 2019 has fallen short of pulling the rug out from under Trump Donald: the president's approval rating hit a new high amid the trial, reaching 49 percent nation-wide, according to a 4 February Gallup Poll.
Is Nancy Pelosi Up to "Plan B"?
Trump's acquittal by the Republican-held Senate came as no surprise; it had been predicted by political observers from the start. However, some Democrats could not reconcile with this: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's shredding of Trump's State of the Union speech – described by CNN as "divisive, but effective" move – triggered a lot of memes and was picked up by the president for an edited video featuring the house speaker repeatedly tearing the speech apart while Trump was outlining his administration's achievements.
"The Dems gained nothing from the indictment and the whole fiasco acted directly to Trump's advantage," says Max Parry, an independent American journalist and geopolitical analyst. "As for Pelosi's empty gesture with the theatrics of tearing up the speech, it was a perfect encapsulation of the political bankruptcy of the Democratic Party and the so-called 'Resistance'. Just months earlier, she had not only approved his gargantuan military budget but capitulated on the border wall."
However, that does not mean that Pelosi has given up on "resistance": according to Politico, the house speaker is now up to something new. To date, she has held a series of meetings urging her party fellows to shift the spotlight from the failed impeachment to the president's handling of the economy. The media revealed that on Tuesday Pelosi hosted a "special speaker’s meeting with a top Obama economics adviser" in order to help the Democrats formulate a new message to voters about Trump's purported economic setbacks.
It's Not Over for the Bidens
On the other side of the political spectrum, Trump's lawyer and former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani has doubled down on exposing the Bidens' alleged nepotistic schemes involving Ukraine's gas company Burisma.
The Biden Family Enterprise has been selling his office for years. The corrupt media has been covering up. It was handed to me and I had the courage to reveal it knowing the Swamp would try to destroy me. I served my country. They are betraying it. I will not stop.— Rudy W. Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) February 11, 2020
The issue of Joe Biden's supposed role in the firing of former Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Shokin prompted Trump last July to ask President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Burisma, where Biden's son Hunter had served as a paid board member for several years. The phone call was overheard and passed on to the so-called 'whistleblower' and became the trigger for the House Dems' impeachment inquiry.
Speaking to NPR on the eve of Trump's acquittal in the US Senate, Giuliani highlighted that the president needs to proceed with the investigation of former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son.
"I believe that it would be one of the great corrupt events in American history if this case is not investigated at the highest levels of two governments," the attorney said, referring to the US and Ukraine.
In addition, Giuliani is reportedly going to make a new documentary about Hunter Biden, according to Yahoo News.
"I am surprised we haven't seen Trump direct [Attorney General] William Barr to look further into Biden's activities or even prosecute him," Parry remarks. "Perhaps they are letting things settle for the time being, but rest assured if Biden becomes the nominee his blackmail of Ukraine over the firing of Viktor Shokin will take centre stage at any showdown between him and Trump. Trump's withholding of the security aid to Ukraine was never proven to have been contingent upon Zelensky cooperating with his requests and was only implicit at best, but what Biden did was outrageous and his conduct was explicitly bribery."
On 10 February, AG Barr confirmed that the Justice Department would review documents gathered from Ukrainian sources and presented by Rudy Giuliani.
The White House 'Cleaning' Ahead of the 2020 Vote
Meanwhile, it appears that Trump has kicked off a "spring cleaning" in the White House, by ousting National Security Council Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his twin brother Yevgeny, as well as US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Alexander Vindman and Gordon Sondland are known for testifying against the president during the House impeachment hearings.
Speaking to Fox and Friends on Monday, White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway dropped the hint that more officials could be removed from their roles following Trump's acquittal. She also dismissed the Dems' assumption that the reported firings were the president's "retaliation" as "ridiculous".
"Most of Trump's previous firings, from James Comey to John Bolton, were motivated by disloyalty," Max Parry observes. "This has been widely represented by the press as him abusing his power, but what all of them have in common is disloyalty. Bolton, for example, was leaking things to the press which Trump saw as an attempt to undermine him, so his firing wasn't necessarily a disagreement over policy between them. So it's not surprising that after the senate trial he would choose to terminate those who testified against him because it's consistent with a pattern and his acquittal was further vindication to do so."
Apparently, Trump needs to close ranks with the 2020 election race entering its final stage. Commenting on who is likely to become the incumbent president's major contender, the journalist suggests that "Bernie Sanders is neck and neck with Joe Biden nationally for the first time and could win many key states." According to Parry, Sanders is "the only candidate that has a shot at beating Trump".