Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi announced Sept. 24 that the House would formally pursue an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. After months of investigations into the President, the House Ways and Means, Foreign Affairs, Oversight, Financial Services, Judiciary, and Intelligence Committees will continue investigations under the new umbrella of articles of impeachment.
The renewed push for impeachment emerged as a result of the new “whistleblower-gate.” This scandal concerns a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump implicitly asked that Zelensky create false criminal allegations against U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden who has business associations with Ukraine.
As an inducement, Trump reportedly withheld previously-confirmed military aid to Ukraine, making that aid contingent on Zelensky’s manufacturing of accusations against Biden.
A member of the U.S. Intelligence Community was listening in on the call, a routine procedure, and filed a whistleblower complaint about Trump’s illegal request for foreign interference in a federal election. Both a condensed transcript of the call and the whistleblower complaint have been released by the Trump Administration.
Social Studies Teacher Becky Mason believes that Trump needs to have clearly committed a crime in order for impeachment to be effective. “Even if he’s just lied about his telephone conversation now that’s not impeachable,” she said. Taking action to withhold military funding from Ukraine, however, would be impeachable in Mason’s view.
Similarly, Malachy Doherty (‘21) believes that impeachment has a slim chance of passing, at least in this term. While he thinks the President has “100%” committed impeachable offenses, he questions the timing of articles being filed. “What Trump has done in the past, [is] much worse than what he did [on the call with the Ukrainian President],” he said. Doherty also felt that impeachment has come “too late”.
A majority of the U.S. House of Representatives has already indicated support for articles of impeachment. Should such articles be passed, Trump would be held on trial in the U.S. Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans.
Mason believes that the only way Trump would possibly be removed from office by the Senate is if he committed an extremely egregious crime. “I don’t think it will actually happen, unless there is something really obvious where it would look real bad for Republican senators to say [that they would] support him,” she said.
Mason is unsure whether or not the impeachment process will affect the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election. She believes that impeachment likely will not have an impact “if their inquiry sort of fizzles” early before the election.
However, if impeachment proceedings continued and Trump passed the Senate vote, Mason thinks that this would bolster his electoral message. “If they start an inquiry, and it takes time, and it starts getting results sometime next fall coming up to an election, and then it turns out that it doesn’t go through … Trump is in a good position because he can say it’s a witch hunt.”