Washington Awaits Impeachment Vote

Naomie Joseph, Staff Writer

Could Donald Trump be the first president to be impeached and removed from office?

On Tuesday, September 24, 2019, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, announced a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump because of a whistleblower complaint.

According to government teacher Heather Kunicki, impeachment simply means a formal charge against the President. Kunicki explained that the impeachment process starts with a series of hearings featuring witnesses and testimony collection.

“Once these hearings, or this investigation is over, the full House will vote and if at least 50% vote to impeach, then they impeach. Impeachment just means to bring a formal charge against the President. Then it’s going to go to the Senate. The Senate will basically start all over with a trial with witnesses again, most likely. It’s going to be much more formalized. And then after that, the entire Senate will vote on conviction, and they need two-thirds of the Senate for that,” Kunicki said.

Kunicki believes that a two-thirds vote of conviction would be difficult given the Senate’s Republican majority.

The impeachment inquiry began with a whistleblower complaint concerning President Trump’s interactions with Ukranian President, Volodymyr Zelensky. The two had a phone call on July 25, regarding a quid pro quo.

Government teacher Heather Kunicki explained why quid pro quo was so bad.

“A quid pro quo basically means bribery, which asking a foreign country to investigate your political opponent is against the Constitution. It’s against the Framers’ intent. So I think it’s incredibly bad if it did happen,” Kunicki said.

In order to give Ukraine the U.S.’s military aid, President Trump allegedly requested President Zelensky to interfere with the upcoming 2020 election by investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, who at the time was the likely 2020 Democratic top front-runner. Specifically, Trump asked Zelensky to work with his personal attorney and Attorney General to create a corruption inquiry on Biden.

Another piece of evidence verifying this accusation is a text sent by Trump’s handpicked messenger, Kurt Volker, to Zelensky’s aide, Andrey Yermak. As reported by CNN, Volker messaged: “Heard from White House — assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck! See you tomorrow,” to Yermak prior to the call.

This further suggests President Trump’s intentions were not for the safety of the public. Instead they were intended to benefit his reelection in the 2020 presidential campaign.

In addition, the impeachment inquiry reviews delays in the U.S. military aid to Ukraine, our ally. Based on a CNN article, “the Trump administration froze $391 million in military and security assistance to Ukraine,” while at war with Russia.

This was considered as “bribery,” by some Democratic lawmakers, which is mentioned in the Constitution as an impeachable offense.

While some acts were made by President Trump, most were assigned to his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Some lawmakers and political commentators believe Giuliani was completing these tasks under Trump’s authorization rather than fulfilling the duties of his job.

Furthermore, Giuliani removed Marie Yovanovitch, an Ukrainian US ambassador, without good probable cause. He accused Yovanovitch of intruding into Trump’s relationship with Ukraine as a “deep state” partisan.

Additionally, the Trump Administration declared the impeachment inquiry as “unconstitutional,” when they were not cooperating at first. The administration would deny access to documents, and disregard testimonies along with subpoenas, a written command requiring a person to attend court.

Although the impeachment inquiry consisted of bribery and high crimes, there was a flaw to it: The Constitution does not have specific regulations regarding presidential conduct dealing with foreign nations.

This gives President Trump more flexibility on how he can manage foreign policy, and therefore can be used as an argument against the inquiry.

However as of November 18, 2019, the Democrats have included David Holmes, the counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine. Holmes was added to the impeachment inquiry sharing new evidence of an impeachable offense.

Specifically, Holmes described how President Trump not only solicited for an investigation on Joe Biden, but also on his son. This happened a day after President Trump’s call with President Zelensky, on July 26.

The question no longer seems to be whether Trump has committed an impeachable offense, but hat will happen next. While American voters do not have direct control over whether or not he is removed from office prior to the next presidential election, this is an event to play out in the weeks to come in Washington with significant influence on the upcoming election.