How Trump’s Handling Of Iran Could Affect His Impeachment

Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Shutterstock.
Last week, when a Trump-ordered drone strike killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, Iran fired back with a series of retaliatory missiles at a US base in Iraq. The back-and-forth attacks drew wide skepticism across the Democratic field, leaving Americans in fear of yet another war in the Middle East. And this was all made worse by an especially bizarre presidential address on Wednesday, where Trump emphasised the significant measures taken in the Iran nuclear deal. Needless to say, we are tired, we are scared, and the first weeks of January have already felt like a full calendar year.
But taking a conspicuous backseat during all of this was Trump’s impeachment, leading some prominent political leaders to question if the President OK’d these attacks to draw attention away from his own senate trial, which was delayed after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi determined that articles of impeachment would not move until there is a better understanding of the Senate’s intended trial process. In short, many are accusing Trump of a “wag the dog” effort of sorts, which would not be uncommon for the Twitter-obsessed president.
On Sunday, Trump suggested, in retaliation to a Pelosi-led interview stating that the President would be "impeached forever," that the Senate outright reject articles of impeachment.
It's a secret to absolutely no one that Trump wants to disregard this impeachment as a "hoax," doing practically whatever it takes to dissuade the Senate from moving forward with a trial. So now the question is, how will Trump’s handling of Iran actually affect his own impeachment?

What is the update on Trump's impeachment?

Trump's impeachment is en route to the Senate to determine criminal charges. But, considering the haphazard nature with which this administration conducts all business, it’s not entirely implausible that the Iran attacks delayed this process.
A quick rundown of events: on 19 December, the House of Representatives voted along party lines to impeach Trump, passing two separate articles (historic!). Now, the Senate awaits those articles to try the president on criminal charges. This will determine whether or not Trump is removed from office, something that has never actually happened in US history. But let’s be clear about one thing: Impeachment occurs within the House, so technically, Trump is already impeached — and he can stay in office so long as the Senate doesn’t vote him out.
There wasn’t much movement regarding Trump’s Senate hearing dates before the attack, and even less so after. But his oft-maligned intelligence was cited as the reason for the aforementioned attack. As tensions crescendoed in the first two weeks of the new year, Congress and news outlets have shifted their focus toward Iran and away from impeachment. 
At the same time, the president wants the Republican-led Senate trial to start and end as quickly as possible. And many want to know why that push is happening during a massive international crisis.

Why does everyone think the Iran attacks are related to Trump's impeachment?

As Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposed on NBC’s Meet the Press, "The question is why now? Why not a month ago? Why not a month from now? And the administration simply can’t keep its story straight. It points in all different directions." Warren’s objections to the Iran attacks posited the “wag the dog” theory: “We know Donald Trump is very upset about this upcoming impeachment trial,” she continued. “But look what he’s doing now. He is taking us to the edge of war.”
George Conway, husband of Trump’s Senior Advisor, Kellyanne Conway, was far more direct, tweeting “It’s extremely difficult now to escape the conclusion that @realDonaldTrump started a war because he was impeached.”
Conway continued by saying, “He let all sorts of transgressions by the Iranians go previously, and is perfectly happy to kowtow to evil foreign leaders (KJU, Putin), but suddenly, he chooses the option that the military thought too extreme to actually select, and then threatens to commit war crimes. What’s different now?”
To be very (very) clear, there is no evidence indicating that the Baghdad airstrike that killed Soleimani was impacted by a protracted impeachment process — so far, this is all conjecture. But considering the timing and hastiness of the action, his administration’s dodgy behaviour, the lack of coherent strategy and Trump’s sudden willingness to trust intelligence organizations for the first time maybe ever, those types of questions are bound to arise. 
So, if he did think that engaging with Iran could help his standing, he appears to be mistaken. Even Sen. Mike Lee is mad at him and Mike Lee is almost always down for a cause with Trump branding. And that brings us to our current situation.

What will happen next for Trump's impeachment after the Iran attacks?

On Thursday, the House passed a measure that would limit Trump’s military powers against Iran, which is positive news for those into world peace, even if it is mostly symbolic, and both sides seem to be standing down for the time being. In regards to impeachment, however, things are still up in the air. 
If the president did almost start a war over his employment status, the impact seems negligible thus far. It certainly hasn’t lit a fire under Speaker Pelosi, who said in her Thursday press conference that she would “send them over when [she’s] ready,” though it seems like that time has come. 
On Friday, she reached an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, though she’s clearly not intimidated by any of the president’s actions. It’s becoming a theme. 

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