EDITORIAL

Of all the casualties of America's impeachment revelations, the country's crumbling foreign policy credibility could be the hardest to regain.

Through news reports, documents and from his own mouth, it is clear United States President Donald Trump views the use of America's power abroad through a highly personal lens.

He also sees his presidential powers as almost unlimited. Trump tweeted: "As the President of the United States, I have an absolute right, perhaps even a duty, to investigate, or have investigated, corruption, and that would include asking, or suggesting, other countries to help us out!"

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He sought the help of his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping — his geopolitical rival with whom he is mired in a tariff trade war — to investigate his chief rival in the 2020 presidential election, former US Vice-President Joe Biden.

That follows months of US pressure on Ukraine, which included delaying military aid allegedly to come up with dirt on Biden — the subject of the impeachment inquiry.

The New York Times reported that two US envoys drafted a statement for Ukraine's leader in August that would have committed the country to investigations. It "marks new evidence of how Mr Trump's fixation with Ukraine began driving senior diplomats to bend American foreign policy to the President's political agenda," the Times wrote.

When asked at a press conference whether he had asked foreign leaders for any corruption investigations that didn't involve Trump's political opponents, the Presidentreplied: "You know, we would have to look."

Trump, who uses his own properties to conduct some presidential business, is still fighting against the release of his tax returns. His daughter and official adviser, Ivanka, has received trademarks from China.

In a text exchange on withholding aid to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, a US diplomat in Kiev, said: "It's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign". Polls suggest many Americans would agree with that sentiment and that the US public isn't with Trump as he tries to present his actions as acceptable and normal.

When asked whether the House of Representatives should try to impeach Trump, respondents to an Economist poll said yes by 50 to 39 per cent. A further 51 to 39 per cent said Trump should be removed from office.

In a USA Today poll, 52 to 21 per cent of respondents believed it was an abuse of power to ask Ukraine's Government to investigate Biden. Among the critical voting bloc of Independents, the margin was 45 per cent to 16 per cent.

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The more information that emerges, the more questions are raised.

How far has US foreign policy been politicised? How many times has Trump offered to change US foreign policy in exchange for political favours? What will we discover about his relations with other leaders once Trump leaves office?

The mind boggles.