Grace Crocker, Staff Writer
On Dec. 18, 2019, President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, making him the third president in the history of the United States to be impeached. The charges that the president faces are abuse of power and obstruction of congress, neither of which are actually a crime.
In September 2019, Nancy Pelosi opened a formal inquiry and impeachment proceedings began following a whistleblower’s testimony that a July phone call between President Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, had included a request by the president that the business dealings of Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden be investigated. According to Pelosi, the phone call reportedly revolved around the president’s desire to “solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
“The evidence is clear that President Trump took advantage of Ukraine’s vulnerability and abused the powers of his office to pressure Ukraine to help his reelection campaign,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler commented. “This is the highest of high crimes, and President Trump must be held to account,” added Nadler.
According to the Washington Post, “Democrats characterized Trump as an immediate threat to the nation he was elected to lead, casting his actions as an unprecedented affront to American values.” Republicans responded to allegations by claiming that the charges were “unsubstantiated” and “illegitimate,” and they repeatedly accused the Democrats of “seeking to illegally overturn the results of the last election.”
Both charges were approved by the Democratice House. The House’s article on abuse of power was passed on Dec. 18, 230 votes to 197; the article on obstruction of Congress passed with 229 to 198 votes. Every Republican representative voted against both articles. Nearly all Democrats voted to impeach the president, with all but two voting to impeach the president on abuse of power, and three on obstruction of congress.
The House of Representatives is open to the prospect of impeaching President Trump a second time, should any new evidence appear. According to Politico, House Counsel Douglas Letter wrote in a filing in federal court that “a second impeachment could be necessary if the House uncovers new evidence that Trump attempted to obstruct investigations of his conduct.”
In spite of successfully impeaching the president, Speaker Pelosi delayed transmitting the articles of impeachment to the Senate until she was satisfied with the rules of the trial, a matter reserved for the Senate. This resulted in a standoff, which was won by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, when he obtained the votes to change Senate rules which precluded the beginning of the trial without the articles of impeachment from the House. This prompted Pelosi to send the articles.
The impeachment trial began last week, as House managers made their case against the president, following motions to approve the rules of the trial and delivery of the articles of impeachment. Seven House Democrats were appointed as managers for the trial by Speaker Pelosi, and it will be their job to argue the impeachment case. The managers selected for the trial are Representatives Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Val Demings, Hakeem Jeffries, Sylvia Garcia, and Jason Crow; Speaker Pelosi said Representative Schiff will lead the team throughout the trial.
Following the manager’s argument for removal, President Trump’s lead team started their case for acquittal of the charges. At present, it appears unlikely that Trump will be removed from office given the two-thirds supermajority required by the Senate to convict the president, and thus far no Republicans have indicated their support for such an outcome.
The Belltower interviewed a few students on campus, and received several quotes regarding the proceedings:
“[Trump] should have been impeached a lot sooner,” said one student, who wishes to remain anonymous, “I don’t know how America has been so blind to his disgusting behavior.”
Another student, also wishing to remain anonymous, had more to say on the matter,
“[I think Trump’s impeachment is] going to go one of two ways: he’s going to be convicted and Pence is going to move into the presidential seat, which is a terrifying thought, or he’s going to be acquitted, and more voters are going to want to put him into a second term on the basis that the Democrats are attacking Trump in an unfair and prejudiced trial.”
The student then shared their prediction for the outcome of the trial, saying “Trump will be acquitted, and instead of raising questions of why Trump went through impeachment there will be overarching news coverage of one side of politics attacking another side of politics and become focused on Republicans versus Democrats.”