The testimony of special counsel Robert Mueller in the latest round of Congressional hearings has sparked new calls for impeachment proceedings to be launched against Donald Trump.
Mueller attended back-to-back hearings on Wednesday (August 24) and refuted many of the conclusions drawn by Trump following the publication of his report into the possibility of Russian interference and collusion in the 2016 US presidential election.
‘Not what the report said'
Following claims by Trump that the report was a resounding exoneration of his actions in the run up to his presidency, the hearings focused on getting to the bottom of what it actually contained.
Democratic House Judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler asked Mueller: “The president has repeatedly claimed that your report found that there was no obstruction and that it completely and totally exonerated him. But that is not what your report said is it?”
“Correct. It is not what the report said,” Mueller responded.
It marks a public statement that, despite the president's claims of being in the clear, the Mueller report did not find him innocent of collusion, just that the instruction of criminal proceedings were not within the purview of the Mueller investigation.
Speaking at the annual convention of the NAACP, Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren stated: “I read the Mueller report the day it came out.
“When I got to the end, I did not stick my finger in the air and ask about the politics, I did not hesitate. This is a man who has broken the law and he should be impeached.”
Little chance of consensus
What is clear after another day of intriguing twists, turns and revelations in Congress is the fact that Republicans and Democrats still do not see eye-to-eye on the matter of Trump's alleged wrongdoing.
While the fallout from the Mueller report has seen sustained calls for impeachment of the president in recent months, this latest clarification on its content is being viewed very differently across the US political divide.
Democrats continue to highlight the fact that special counsel Mueller did not state the president had not been cleared of committing criminal behaviour, citing the fact that the investigation's own rules forbade a sitting president from being indicted.
“I think there are impeachable offenses and that the president should be tried for them,” former vice-president and current 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden told reporters.
Meanwhile, Republicans argue there was no substantiated claim of wrongdoing in the report and therefore no impeachment proceedings can be sought.
Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel argued: “Today's hearings were a disaster for Democrats.”
The differing viewpoints of Democrats and Republicans highlight the dichotomy of US politics right now, where both sides of the Congressional divide interpret the same facts in such opposing ways.
No stopping the rise of markets
Despite the ongoing furore surrounding president Trump, his rise to office and the subsequent deep divides in Congress, the US economy continues to perform strongly.
Indeed, US markets rose to record highs this week, with the S&P 500 achieving an all-time closing high on Wednesday of 3,019.56 and the Nasdaq riding a three-day surge to 8,321.50 by the end of the day – signalling its strongest performance in the last three weeks.
The main upward driver has been optimistic growth announcements from some of the nation's biggest firms, while the potential for an end to trade concerns with China is also helping to stabilise future outlook.