WASHINGTON: Donald Trump on Wednesday called for outing the whistleblower behind the impeachment inquiry threatening his presidency and sought to transform the entire scandal into a boost for his 2020 re-election campaign.

Trump began his attempt to crush impeachment on Tuesday with a breathtaking show of defiance to Congress.

In an eight-page letter signed by the White House counsel, the administration bluntly announced it would not cooperate with the Democratic-led House of Representatives, calling its impeachment push illegitimate.

Democrats responded by accusing Trump of stonewalling and obstruction. “No one is above the law, not even President Trump,” the Democratic majority leader in the House, Steny Hoyer, said on Wednesday.

Now Trump is demanding that the whistleblower, who reported the president’s alleged pressure on Ukraine to dig up dirt on Democratic election rival Joe Biden, be exposed. The identity of whistleblowers is protected by law.

Democrats accuse Trump of stonewalling inquiry

On Twitter, which Trump is using to bombard the public with conspiracy theories about a secret “deep state” trying to remove him from power, the president argued that the whistleblower had been shown to be partisan and inaccurate.

“The Whistleblower’s facts have been so incorrect about my ‘no pressure’ conversation with the Ukrainian president, and now the conflict of interest and involvement with a Democrat candidate, that he or she should be exposed and questioned,” the president tweeted.

In another tweet he dismissed the impeachment process as a Democratic bid to influence the election, saying “their total focus is 2020, nothing more.”

Trump, who broke with precedent by campaigning for re-election almost from the moment he took office in 2017, is himself pouncing on the impeachment as the new cornerstone of his 2020 effort.

He and the Republican Party have pushed hard to raise funds off the back of their accusation of unfair treatment from the Democratic lower house in Congress.

And on Thursday (today) and Friday, Trump will take that message to his core supporters when he holds campaign rallies in Minneapolis and Louisiana.

Constitution under strain

Even if the House impeaches Trump, it remains unlikely that the Republican-led Senate would convict him in the subsequent trial. However, Trump’s already turbulent presidency would be forever associated with the impeachment.

The former real estate salesman’s furious response is in keeping with his established style of never admitting to being wrong and doing whatever it takes to fight back.

“The good news is that WE WILL WIN!!!!” he exclaimed in one of his tweets early on Wednesday.

But the point-blank refusal to accept the House’s authority to investigate his alleged abuse of office puts the legislature and executive branches on a collision course that will strain the constitution, if not lead to a full-blown constitutional crisis.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2019