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According to ING analysts, the US impeachment process was spurred by a whistleblower’s complaint about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

Key Quotes

“In a July phone call, Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who previously worked for a Ukrainian energy firm. Emails show that Trump then sought to withhold aid from Ukraine. However, Republicans contend that the two issues were unrelated and there was no ‘quid pro quo’. They continue to allege wrongdoing by Biden, and Senator Lindsey Graham has promised an investigation.”

“This poses a major unknown for the Biden campaign. Although numerous impeachment witnesses and the Western foreign policy community say the former Vice President did nothing wrong, an investigation could still cause political problems for him.”

“A precedent is the investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attack, which put Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State on trial. In 2015, the current Republican leader in the House of Representatives admitted this inquiry was politically motivated. Similarly, the FBI investigation into Clinton’s email practices revealed no major wrongdoing but were still politically damaging.”

“Based on the small sample size of past precedents, and given that allegations about Biden are circulating mostly in media not followed by Democratic primary voters, it is unlikely to cause significant damage to him. One indicator that there is an effect will be if primary voters lower their opinion of his electability, the most important quality a candidate can have in this cycle. But we may not see evidence of such a shift for weeks.”