The chances of Donald Trump being impeached have shot up after he questioned his own intelligence agencies’ finding that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election.
During a press conference, Trump seemed to accept Russian President Vladimir Putin’s insistence that Moscow’s hands were clean.
He said: ‘I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that president Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
‘He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.’
As a result, the odds of Trump being impeached are now 2/1 – a big change from the previous 8/1, according to Paddy Power.
And the chances of that happening in 2018 have also moved from 12/1 to 8/1.
A Paddy Power spokesman told Yahoo News UK: ‘After the carnage of the last few days, we’ve seen plenty of punters Putin money on Trump’s impeachment again – although I’m sure they’ll soon get a message, in Russian, urging them to stop.’
Talk of impeachment is not on agenda right now – but may well be at a later date, according to Democrat Eric Swalwell.
He told The Hill: ‘I think that’s premature at this point ‘ we should do all we can to make sure that he’s held accountable, that we conduct the investigations the Republicans have been unwilling to do.
‘If impeachment is the case, it’s because we found impenetrable evidence that we take to the American people and will be accepted by both Republicans and Democrats.’
The reaction in the United States to Trump openly questioning his own intelligence agencies was immediate and visceral among fellow Republicans and usual Trump critics.
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In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump said ‘it’s a shame’ that he and Putin were being asked questions about the Russia probe while they were trying to discuss issues like Syria and nuclear proliferation.
He said: ‘We’ve had a phony witch hunt deal drive us apart.’
Standing alongside Putin in Helsinki, Trump steered clear of any confrontation with the Russian, going so far as to question American intelligence and last week’s federal indictments that accused 12 Russians of hacking into Democratic email accounts to hurt Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Republican politicians have generally stuck with Trump during a year and a half of turmoil, but he was widely criticised after returning home from Helsinki.
Senator John McCain of Arizona was most outspoken, declaring that Trump made a ‘conscious choice to defend a tyrant’ and achieved ‘one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory’.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who rarely criticises Trump, stressed there was ‘no question’ that Russia had interfered.
As I said today and many times before, “I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.” However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along! #HELSINKI2018
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2018
Even staunch Trump backer Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, called the President’s comments ‘the most serious mistake of his presidency’ and said they ‘must be corrected – immediately’.
Trump tried to clarify his position on Twitter, writing: ‘As I said today and many times before, ‘I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.’
‘However, I also recognise that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past – as the world’s two largest nuclear powers, we must get along!’