Impeachment Inquiry Continues

The historic investigation bolsters Government classes

Jake Risch, reporter

On Oct. 31, the House of Representatives voted 232-196 to formalize the impeachment inquiry and set rules for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. A vote like this has only occurred three times in the history of the United States. 

“What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a speech to the House. Pelosi implored her colleagues to allow the American people to hear the facts and make a decision. However, she still could not convince the Republicans that this impeachment hearing was more than a political move, and the vote aligned with party lines.

House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy said that Democrats are “scared they cannot defeat [Trump] at the ballot box.” This sentiment was echoed by the 196 Republicans who voted against the resolution, many of whom, like White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, called the impeachment “ an illegitimate sham,” in a statement released by the White House.

At Emery, the impeachment has been an effective real world parallel for history and government class. “It really lends itself to a lot of awesome teachable moments in my class,” Government teacher Shelby Culver said. “I’ve found that students feel that it’s more important to find the truth and do what’s right than worry about whichever party you lean to or what the aesthetics of it is.”

Removing the president, on the other hand, is a whole other process. Culver says that for Trump to be removed, “both the house of representatives and the senate would have to agree on the impeachment and i believe that is highly unlikely because we have a republican majority in the senate.”

The last time that the House voted to formalize an impeachment inquiry was just over 21 years ago in 1998 during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. However, Clinton was acquitted in the Senate trial. President Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached. The closest the Senate has even come to removing a president after an impeachment was when the Senate was one vote off from convicting Andrew Johnson in 1868.

In the Constitution, Article II section 4 reads,“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The founders left this section intentionally vague. They meant for the officers, Representatives and Senators, of the time to decide how impeachment should work. This leads to differences in procedure between impeachments. There is no precedent for removing a president from office or conducting a peaceful transition of power, especially for a president as vocally against removal as Trump.

If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal,” Pastor Robert Jefferies said in an interview on Fox News.  Trump later quoted Jefferies in a tweet. It is unlikely that the President will accept a guilty verdict from the Senate, should the impeachment inquiry result in actual impeachment.

However, the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees have continued to investigate the President. They have heard testimony from 16 powerful diplomats, state officials, former White House employees, and others connected to the inquiry and subpoenaed or requested testimony from 45 more, according to CNN . The testimonies lay out an irregular method of diplomacy, including diplomats being threatened if they didn’t comply with Trump’s foreign policy objectives. Many diplomats claim that they raised concerns over Trump’s and other senior official’s actions.

“Working 10 years back in Washington, I had never seen that,” former senior adviser to the Secretary of State Michael McKinley said during testimony to Congress. McKinley’s claims referenced Trump’s alleged attempts to get information about his potential 2020 opponent, Joe Biden, from a foreign power.

Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to The Ukraine, said that she was concerned about her position. On the July 25 phone call from Trump to the Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, which ultimately sparked the impeachment inquiry, Trump said that Yovanovitch was “bad news” and that she would “go through some things.” 

I just simply don’t know what this could mean, but it does not leave me in a comfortable position,” Yovanovitch said in her testimony. She had previously raised concerns about Trump’s foreign policy objectives and his use of his private lawyer, Rudy Guilani, to accomplish these goals.

However, by far the most damning testimony came from Bill Taylor, a former ambassador to the Ukraine. Taylor was Vice President of the United States Institute of Peace, and most recently chargé d’affaires (Interim Ambassador) to the Ukraine after Yovanovitch resigned. “There was an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making with respect to Ukraine,” Taylor testified to the House Intelligence Committee on Oct. 22. “The push to make President Zelenskyy publicly commit to investigations of Burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how the official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular efforts led by Mr. Giuliani.” Taylor explicitly described how Trump wanted the Ukraine to investigate how former Vice President Joe Biden fired a Ukrainian prosecutor to allegedly protect his son Hunter Biden, as well as any interference in the 2016 election. Of greater concern is the notion that Trump used his Presidential authority to withhold aid and a White House visit from Ukraine unless they pursued these investigations.

“Are we now saying that security assistance and [White House] meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Taylor said in a text to Gordon Sondland, Ambassador to the European Union. Sondland replied, “Call me.” Taylor laid out an alleged exchange in which the Ukraine would receive approximately $400 million in frozen military aid from the US and a White House visit in exchange for a public statement from Zelensky that the Ukrainian government would pursue the aforementioned investigations.

Sondland, who had previously defended Trump, has changed his testimony. In a text to Taylor on Sept 9, Sondland said, “The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”  However, in a statement recently released by the House, Sondland now claims “I said that resumption of the U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.” 

House Democrats show no signs of slowing down and aim  to get a vote on actual articles of impeachment before 2020. Regardless of how this impeachment process turns out, it will be a historic event and the consequences will be far reaching.  “If [Trump’s] done anything unconstitutional, regardless of if it’s the right move or the wrong move as far as a political move goes, that doesn’t matter,” Culver said, “as we elect our House of Representatives and our senators to represent us and preserve our democracy.”