Quid Pro No: the Trump Impeachment Inquiry


Photo/ The White House

President Donald J. Trump in a meeting with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zalensky in Sep. in New York City.

Nina Johnson, Editor in Chief

Nina Johnson
Editor in Chief

The impeachment inquiry for President Donald Trump is nearing month three of being the headlining story, for both national and international news. The 2019 will create history as the third formal impeachment process that the United States has undergone, before that being Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton who were both impeached by Congress. No United States president has been removed from office through impeachment.

How impeachment works
Impeachment begins with the House of Representatives accusing the president of the United States of high crimes or misdemeanors, which is the first step towards potentially removing the sitting president from office. The sections of the constitution that mention impeachment or the “high crimes” are ostensibly vague, leaving it to Congress and the American people to decipher its implications in 2019.

I think the impeachment inquiry effectively shows how fragmented and dysfunctional our government truly is”

— Peter Andrews

Historically, impeachment is quite a rare occurrence. The reason why impeachment is so complex is the fact that it’s a political rather than legal process, though it’s goal is to “charge” the president. After the House, the issue then moves to the Senate, where a trial is held to determine whether to actually remove him. In simpler terms, the process has four steps if carried out in its entirety: the impeachment inquiry, the impeachment vote, a senate trial, and ending with the senate vote.

“Impeachment is always a hard process and is extremely divisive. So, it’s hard to feel any sort of joy, even though I’m not his biggest fan,” senior Claire Suchy said.

President Trump, Hunter Biden, Ukraine, Rudy Giuliani: how they play a role
The Trump-Ukraine scandal began in Sep. after an intelligence officer filed a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, alleging Trump of wrongdoing. The whistleblower has since been identified as a former member of the CIA with ties to the National Security Council. It was one phone call in July of 2019–between president Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky–that sparked discomfort in the intelligence community. A formal complaint was filed, but the Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, did not forward it to Congress following demands of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel who did not deem it a matter of “urgent concern”.

In Sep., it was revealed that the whistleblower’s report was about Trump’s negotiation with Ukraine to undergo an investigation on Hunter Biden, former vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son. The phone call became public on Sep. 25.

In the official White House memo and recording of the call, Trump’s tied his effort for Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden with American foreign aid given to the country. Trump told Zelensky that his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was who he should talk to when he asked for a follow-up conversation, rather than any of the diplomats.

What’s next?
The House’s role in the inquiry, in the words of the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, is to understand “the full scope of President Trump’s abuse of power”. Republicans have no unified stance on the impeachment inquiry, mainly because defending him in mass is becoming an increasingly complex notion with each passing day and each witness testifying.

In mid-Oct., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered his GOP counterparts advice on how to confront impeachment. In private, he told the senators that their “best bet was to calibrate their own message about the impeachment inquiry to fit their political situation,” according to AP News. The inquiry is based on what Democrats are adamant is an ‘improper’ quid pro quo, and Republicans are working with the flexibility within their party to establish differing yet clear messages regarding their opinions on it.

It’s difficult to predict what will come of the inquiry in the following weeks and months. The House voted–232 to 196–which formalized the inquiry. Nationally televised hearings are set to begin on Nov. 13 with two witnesses.

“I’m curious to see what comes of the 2020 election. You can look at the impeachment inquiry in two ways. In one way, it unified the Democrats and divided the Republicans, which could hurt Trump’s goal for reelection. However, Trump’s numbers in the polls have fluctuated very little since September, but Biden’s have dropped. Even if the allegations were false regarding Hunter Biden, it definitely hurt [Biden’s] campaign as Trump intended,” senior Brooke Parten said.