Donald Trump has been warned the “countdown” to impeachment is underway, after his former lawyer implicated the president in crimes committed during the 2016 election.
On Thursday, Mr Trump publicly addressed the prospect of impeachment for the first time, claiming the market would “crash” if his presidency was threatened.
“I don't know how you can impeach somebody who has done a great job,” Mr Trump told Fox News. “I will tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor because, without this thinking, you would see – you would see numbers that you wouldn't believe, in reverse.”
Mr Trump’s comments came after Michael Cohen, his long-time legal “fixer”, pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including two counts of campaign finance violations, which he said he committed at the direction of the president.
Cohen admitted paying hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, both alleged to have had extramarital affairs with Mr Trump.
Tom Cole, a Republican member of the House of Representatives, warned it was "too soon" to begin impeachment proceedings, but said: "If something comes out that is clear and convincing and impeachable, I think members will act."
Al Green, a Democratic congressman who has previously filed articles of impeachment against Mr Trump, suggested he may do so again following Cohen’s guilty plea.
"I think the president has to realise that the countdown to impeachment has already started,” he said. "He, at some point, will have to choose if he will face impeachment or if he will resign. It will be his choice. The congress will have no choice but to act.”
"At some point, we have to act."
Most Democrats, however, are keeping quiet about the prospect of removing Mr Trump from office, amid fears pushing the issue will fire up the Republican base ahead of the midterm elections in November.
“I don't think that we should be talking about impeachment,” Democratic senator Tammy Duckworth said.
Nancy Pelosi, the house Democratic leader, has consistently urged her party not to push the issue, and instead work to uphold special counsel Robert Mueller’s ability to investigate potential crimes committed by the Trump campaign.
“The special counsel’s team and the prosecutors in New York are conducting thorough and professional investigations, and they must be allowed to continue free from interference,” Ms Pelosi told fellow Democrats on Wednesday. “As November rapidly approaches, we must also stay focused on delivering our strong economic message to hard-working families across America.”
Trump allies, however, have been discussing impeachment – raising the prospect in an attempt to convince Republican voters to turn out in November.
Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor hired by Mr Trump last month to join his legal team, warned there would be a “revolt” in the US if the president was impeached.
"You could only impeach [Trump] for political reasons and the American people would revolt against that," he said.
"The idea of an impeachment is frankly a sad attempt by Democrats, it’s the only message they seem to have going into the midterms,” Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, told reporters. “It is another great reminder why Americans should support other like-minded candidates like the president.”
Former chief strategist for Mr Trump, Steve Bannon, told Bloomberg: "November is a referendum on impeachment – an up or down vote. Every Trump supporter needs to get with the programme."
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