Impeachment trial hangs over Trump’s State of the Union address, Latest World News - The New Paper

Impeachment trial hangs over Trump’s State of the Union address

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WASHINGTON: America's divisions will enter into burning focustoday (Singapore time) when President Donald Trump delivers the annual State of the Union speech to Congress, ahead of his expected impeachment acquittal.

The State of the Union is a grand set piece in the US political calendar, a rare occasion when opponents traditionally observe a truce while Mr Trump lays out a vision for the future.

But he will drive up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol at a time of rancour arguably unmatched for decades - and likely to worsen as the November presidential election approaches.

The White House promises Mr Trump will be "relentless" in talking up the US economy and the " blue-collar boom" when he takes to the podium at 9pm local time (10am today, Singapore time).

"I think the speech is going to have a very optimistic tone," a senior administration official said.

The reality is Mr Trump will be entering a chamber where only last December the Democratic-led House of Representatives impeached him for abuse of power and obstructing justice. The speech could in theory be an opportunity to reach out and heal a nation boiling over in mistrust.

Mr Trump could express regret for what several of his own Republican senators agree was wrongful behaviour in pushing Ukraine to open a questionable corruption probe against one of his main Democratic opponents, Mr Joe Biden.

Or he could seek to calm the waters by entirely avoiding the topic of impeachment, just as then President Bill Clinton did during his post-impeachment State of the Union in 1999.

White House officials say they do not know what he will do.

"It is never safe to assume anything," the administration official said, when asked if impeachment will be kept out of the speech.

Republican Senator Roy Blunt told The New York Times that Trump should "avoid" the "i word".

"It is an opportunity to move on," Mr Blunt said, while acknowledging that the real estate tycoon and reality TV show performer is not the type to turn down the volume.

"The other option is to address it head on and he is often a head-on kind of guy." - AFP