The Impeachment Inquiry

Raymond Peters, Staff Writer

Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zalensky

Being politically knowledgeable is a valuable trait nowadays. With homework, sports, volunteering, clubs, and other extra-curriculars, politics are often cast aside by many teens at Warren. The extent of political knowledge for most students ends after sophomore year’s government class.

But something is happening. History is being made right before our eyes. The 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, is facing an impeachment inquiry. It was launched by the House of Representatives on September 24 after a whistleblower complaint revealed shocking details about a July 25 phone call between Trump and the newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

What does impeachment mean? Contrary to popular belief, impeachment is not the act of removing an elected official from office. It is the act of charging a government official, in this case the President, with a crime. Impeachable offenses for the president are treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. 

Like most of our Constitution, the term “high crimes and misdemeanors” was purposely left vague so the president in question could be impeached for any number of crimes. What did Donald Trump do that warranted an impeachment inquiry? 

During the scheduled call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky, Trump pointed out his frustration with Hunter Biden, the son of democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. He asked President Zelensky to “look into [Biden]…” Why? With the 2020 elections around the corner, President Trump wants to secure a second term. However, former vice president and democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden jeopardizes his chances of serving a second term.

In addition, Trump’s approval rating at that time were poor; only 45% according to Gallup.

A poll by ABC News showed that Joe Biden had a higher approval rating than Trump by 10%. Biden is still the most popular presidential candidate for the 2020 election, and at the time this article was published,  Biden is still leading in the polls. So by digging up dirt on Hunter, Trump could potentially damage Joe Biden’s reputation and send his poll numbers into a slump, giving him the upper hand in the election.

However, Trump didn’t make this call without a bargaining chip. A week before the call with Zelensky, Trump ordered $400 million in Congressional-approved foreign aid to be held from Ukraine. The money was to be used for political reform and to help stabilize Ukraine after years of debilitating corruption. 

Ukraine has been dealing with corruption within the government since the country was founded in 1991. Ukranian presidents have long used a Prosecutor General, a powerful official elected by presidents, to investigate and prosecute political rivals. 

According to the Washington Post, past Ukrainian presidents “and [The President’s] subordinates monitored, encouraged and partially controlled graft — including bribery, embezzlement and self-dealing of state contracts.” 

Grafts are a sore subject for Ukraine. A graft is government funds used for public projects, but is misdirected and given to the upper class to buy their support. Aid from countries such as the United States would benefit Ukraine immensely.

The phone call was made public after a whistleblower, dubbed “Orange Crush” by social media, expressed concern in a letter sent on August 12th to Senate intelligence committee chairmen Richard Burr and Adam Schiff. They presented the transcript of the call and the complaint to the public on September 26th, which caused a national uproar.

TLDR: Donald Trump is accused of bribing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt regarding Henry Biden, the son of his political rival Joe Biden.

The impeachment process is a simple yet lengthy process. First, a committee in the House of Representatives, usually the House Judiciary Committee, begins a thorough investigation to gather evidence to be used in the impeachment trial. The trial may never occur if the House of Representatives do not pass the articles of impeachment. To do so the House must have a simple majority for or against the impeachment of the president. If the articles pass, the president is impeached. 

It should be noted that Congress is only beginning the investigation. The House passed a resolution that “lays out the framework for public hearings and eventual proceedings in the Judiciary Committee, which would craft any potential articles of impeachment.” They are holding public and private hearings to collect information. Two names one could recognize are Mick Mulvaney, who was subpoenaed due to his refusal of attending his hearing, and Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

If the majority of the House votes in favor of impeaching the president, the next step takes place in the Senate. The Senate holds a trial for the president. It goes like any other criminal trial, with cross-examinations and witnesses, and the Senators as jury. The Senate must reach a two-thirds supermajority to remove the president from office.

But that might not happen. Many speculate that since the Republican control the Senate majority the trial will not result in the president’s removal. 

Impeachment hearings are underway and history is being made.