John Armstrong: There are three possible ways that the Trump impeachment could go

"Insane In The Ukraine" screamed the front page of Thursday's edition of the New York Daily News.

Us Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, left, and US President Donald Trump. Source: 1 NEWS

The four-word headline said it all without saying very much. It got right to the heart of the matter. The paper's verdict was unambiguous.

In putting the hard word on a foreign government to dig up dirt on a rival candidate in next year's battle for occupancy of the White House, Donald Trump had obviously lost his marbles.

The Daily News was 100 per cent correct. It was bonkers stuff. It was the Madness of King Donald.

That Trump thought he could indulge in what was nothing less than political blackmail by threatening to block military aid from being despatched to Ukraine unless that country's president did Trump a "favour" by launching an investigation into alleged corrupt business dealings by the former American vice-president Joe Biden, is evidence aplenty that the president is drunk with power.

He has deluded himself into thinking he is above the law. And moreover that he wouldn't get caught.

That Trump has been rumbled begs a question. How many other leaders have been made similar requests that they could not refuse.
That is a question for another day, however.

The wonder is why Trump even bothered to try to get someone else to do his dirty work.

Biden may rate as the most popular contender of the dozen or so contenders seeking nomination as the Democrats' candidate in next year's presidential election.

But Biden has "loser" written all over him. He lacks the vision, verve and vitality that is going to be required to defeat Trump.

The allegation that Trump broke American law by seeking the assistance of a foreign power to influence the result of an American election remains at this stage just that -- an allegation.

But everyone but Trump is treating it as fact. The circumstantial evidence is damning. The insinuation was crystal clear. It can be read in no other way.

Ukraine's president has insisted he did not feel pressured during his conversation with Trump. That might be just enough for Trump to wriggle of the hook should he end up facing an impeachment trial in the Senate.

Then odds are on him then being skewered by the attempted cover-up of the phone conversation. Senior figures in Trump's Administration -- along with the president's lawyer -- have already been named as being implicated in that cover-up.

As Richard Nixon found to his cost, the pressure of a Congressional hearing can result in previous loyal servants suddenly blurting out the truth when threatened with dire punishment should they remain silent.

No-one can predict exactly what is going to happen from here onwards. But it is possible to make some informed guesses.

There are three plausible outcomes of the Democratic Party putting their previous reluctance to entertain impeachment to one side.

The first scenario is that the required preliminary investigation to decide whether to begin the lengthy procedure of impeachment recommends not to take the matter further. That would see the Democrats being accused of being gutless in not using their majority in the House of Representatives to hold Trump to account. It would beg the question of how badly would the president have to behave before impeachment came into play.

The second scenario would see the Democrats using their majority to refer Trump to the Senate for trial. To be impeached would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate. The Democrats don't even have a simple majority.

At this stage, it seems unlikely that the Republican majority would jump ship, a move which would likely hand the White House to the Democrats at next year's presidential election.

Public opinion is split on the question of whether Trump should be impeached. But Republican Party voters are overwhelmingly against such an attempt to remove him from office.

One thing is almost certainly guaranteed to happen, however.

This is is shaping as the biggest and bloodiest battle in American politics since Nixon pulled up the drawbridge at the White House in a futile attempt to save his presidency.

If you think Trump is a nasty piece of work, then you ain't seen nothing yet.