Trump close but not yet at the brink

Editorial | 19 May 2017

Wall Street finally tumbled after staggering about for the past few weeks.

It seems the political storms President Donald Trump created for himself are about to intensify into a hurricane - powerful enough to threaten his presidency.

Global markets will be affected if an impeachment typhoon does erupt.

The Hong Kong stock market has been relatively calm so far, but will be dragged into the swirls if tensions continue to rise in Washington and spins out of control.

The Wall Street rally since November has been spurred by Trump's election win, which elevated expectations for deep corporate tax cuts and reforms to ease regulatory grips on the financial market.

However, after witnessing scandal after scandal, investors are casting doubts on whether Trump, the billionaire entrepreneur who prides himself as the "deal maker," will actually deliver on those promises early enough - if he can at all.

The irony is: if it has been possible for him to rally Wall Street to a high it has never seen before, it's equally possible for him to crash it, when optimism dry up and investors stop paying attention to his tweets.

Stocks often stay ahead of economic performance. Currencies are even spontaneous.

After hitting the post-election peak in late December, the US dollar index - which measures the greenback against six top currencies - has been edging down steadily, albeit slowly, mirroring almost each of the political setbacks Trump suffered.

Over the past week or two, the fall has quickened, amid Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey, and sharing of highly-classified intelligence with Russian top officials. The intelligence was said to be so exacting that Russian spies can potentially use it to pin down the source.

It's factual - not alternatively factual - that Trump could legally leak the information to parties of his choice, since he is the US commander-in-chief. But it matters because it can be just another nail in his coffin before long.

Could Trump be digging his own grave in firing Comey?

Again, as the president, he has every right to sack the FBI director, even though the latter had been leading an investigation into the Trump campaign's links with Russia.

However, it's now a totally different story following the revelation that Trump had allegedly asked Comey to stop the bureau's investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

This didn't just go beyond presidential powers, since - if proven - it could amount to obstruction of justice, which would be an impeachable offense.

With that said, it's too early to say whether the American Congress can successfully impeach Trump.

To impeach a sitting president, the Democrats would need the cooperation of Republicans in the House of Representatives. But it cannot be clearer that Republicans aren't prepared to abandon their president for self-interest at present.

The development will depend on the outcome of the mid-term elections in 2018, when all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and 34 of the 100 in the Senate will be contested.

That will be the watershed.

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