Boris Johnson defends close bond with Donald Trump amid impeachment debate

Donald Trump: Johnson defends relationship with President

The Prime Minister said on Wednesday that he backs the UK having “the best possible relationship” with the president and pointed towards the future after having an “excellent conversation” with incoming leader Joe Biden. The Democrat will enter the White House after his inauguration on January 20, but not before the US House of Representatives takes action against Mr Trump. He is likely to again be impeached, this time for encouraging loyalists to “fight like hell” against the election result before supporters stormed the Capitol.

During an appearance before the Commons liaison committee of senior backbench MPs, Mr Johnson was questioned over his previous praise of the Republican president.

Petitions committee chair Catherine McKinnell asked the Prime Minister: “Given recent events do you regret saying in 2018 that Donald Trump is worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize?”

Mr Johnson replied: “I’m in favour of the Prime Minister of the UK having the best possible relationship with the president of the United States and I had an excellent conversation very recently with President-elect Joe Biden.”

Focus on politicians’ praise for Mr Trump has intensified since the assault on the Capitol in Washington DC by his supporters left five people, including a police officer, dead.

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Troops from the National Guard amassed at Congress on Wednesday ahead of the fast-moving impeachment vote.

Unlike in 2019 when no Republicans backed the vote in the House, a small number look set to break with party lines to vote with the Democrats.

Mr Trump faces a single charge of “incitement of insurrection” over his incendiary remarks and baseless claims he spread in claiming his opponent’s electoral victory was a fraud.

The Prime Minister has gone to many efforts not to criticise the president during his leadership, but said it was “completely wrong” for Mr Trump to encourage the siege on the Capitol.

Hillary Clinton discusses Trump’s inauguration in 2017

The House previously voted to impeach Trump in December 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress stemming from his request that Ukraine investigate Biden and his son Hunter ahead of the election, as Democrats accused him of soliciting foreign interference to smear a domestic political rival.

The Republican-led Senate in February 2020 voted to keep Trump in office.

Wednesday’s article of impeachment accused Trump of “incitement of insurrection,” saying he provoked violence against the US government in his speech near the White House shortly before the Capitol siege.

The article also cited Trump’s January 2 phone call asking a Georgia official to “find” votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the state.

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During his January 6 speech, Trump falsely claimed he had defeated Biden, repeated unfounded allegations of widespread fraud and irregularities in a “rigged” election, told his supporters to “stop the steal,” “show strength,” “fight much harder” and use “very different rules” and promised to go with them to the Capitol, though he did not.

“If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump told his supporters.

Democrats could also use an impeachment trial to push through a vote blocking Trump from running for office again.

Only a simple Senate majority is needed to disqualify Trump from future office, but there is disagreement among legal experts as to whether an impeachment conviction is required first.

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