The impeachment inquiries regarding President Donald Trump and his interactions with the Ukranian government have garnered major media attention in the past few weeks, quickly becoming the most talked-about political event of the year. Only three presidents have ever been impeached and only 12 others faced impeachment proceedings, making this a significant moment in US history.
The case against President Trump and the basis of the impeachment proceedings are built on the details of a phone call between himself and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in July 2019, in which President Trump allegedly pressured Zelensky to investigate Trump’s political opponent and Democratic front-runner for the 2020 election, Joe Biden. A whistleblower brought forward concerns about the call to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Michael K. Atkinson in August 2019. Over a month later, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would move forward with formal impeachment proceedings, including an inquiry about the call.
On December 18, the House made the momentous decision to impeach President Trump. Speaker Pelosi has not said when she would pass on the articles of impeachment to the Senate, but the trial is expected to be in early January. The final stage of this lengthy process is whether or not the Senate decides to acquit or remove the President from office. In previous trials of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, both were acquitted, so it is likely that Trump will be acquitted as well.
The whistleblower’s complaint setting off the impeachment inquiries led key officials to testify before the House Committees. Private testimonies by members from the Intelligence, Oversight and Reform, and Foreign Affairs Committees all said that there had been pressure from President Trump onto Zelensky to publicly announce investigations into the Bidens and their involvement with Burisma Holdings, an energy company in Ukraine. The transcript of the July 25 phone call, released by the President himself, was said to be word for word, but as testified by National Security Council Ukraine Expert Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman who listened in on the whole conversation, the transcript was a shortened version that cut out many important words.
Lying about withholding information from the call is just one on the laundry list of lies made by President Trump and his administration. Most have also refused to cooperate with requests to testify during the hearings. Undeterred, Democrats have used this noncompliance as reasoning for the second article of impeachment: obstruction of Congress. And this isn’t the only instance President Trump and his cabinet haven’t respected the law — he’s treated himself as seemingly above the law since his first day in office. During a speech at the Turning Point USA’s Teen Action Summit this past July he even said, “I have an Article 2, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.” Article 2 is, in simple terms, the president’s job description rather than the free pass he makes it out to be. While making slanderous statements about people of color (Ilhan Omar, Barack Obama, immigrants), replacing his administration with family members, and withholding aid cannot be proven as official abuses of power, they do exemplify the loopholes in the law that President Trump has exploited. In 2019, he repealed the Clean Water Rule which curbed the use of chemical pollutants near bodies of water. But that’s not all: the New York Times reported that President Trump has rolled back more than 95 federal environmental laws to benefit the economy — he seems to have forgotten about the hazard repealing of these laws will have citizens’ health. He’s also passed inhumane executive orders such as the 2017 Muslim Ban, which bars people from entering the country due to their faith. The Washington Post recently reported that counties that hosted President Trump rallies in 2016 saw a staggering 226% rise in reported hate crimes. The US, as one of the most powerful countries in the world, often sets international precedents. Having a leader that encourages racism and a vitriolic social climate is dangerous for minorities around the world. By building his presidency on the blocks of prejudice, sexism, and fraud, he has not “made America great again.” Impeaching him would show the US taking responsibility for the values upheld by the Constitution and setting the standard for future leadership.
Some may argue that this impeachment is motivated by the Democratic Party’s dissent with Trump’s ideologies, but President Trump has committed numerous crimes against humanity, such as turning away refugees from Mexico by building “The Wall” and authorizing military activity in Syria without congressional approval. Impeachment would maintain the dignity of the country and the welfare of its people.
Recently at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit held in London on December 3-4, a group of world leaders — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson — were recorded presumably mocking Trump. If the President, who is the Chief of State — the figurehead that represents the country — is being laughed at by other powerful world leaders and allies, what does this say about how America is viewed under his leadership?
President Trump is the first modern president who has never served an elected position in office or done military service. During his presidency, he has pushed aside issues like gun control and abortion rights undermining their severity, even though they they have been at the center of activist movements in the past decade. His blatant disregard for citizens’ opinions warrants impeachment because he is not preserving, protecting, and defending the principles of the Constitution.
Even if President Trump doesn’t get removed from office, which probably won’t happen due to the majority Republican Senate, the impeachment inquiry will drastically change the way citizens interpret the balance of power in the government, affecting upcoming elections for years to come.
Many believe that Pelosi’s decision to proceed with the inquiry and the House’s move toward impeachment are motivated by the pursuit of justice and betterment of the country. Proponents of impeachment argue that the contents of the call were incriminating, as Trump seemingly leveraged the United States’ current military aid to Ukraine for personal gain in a twisted form of “quid-pro-quo.” If Trump truly did request the Ukrainian government to scrutinize Biden’s business dealings, it would be a direct and blatant violation of regulations set forth by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
If true, President Trump should definitely be punished — to show this nation and others that his actions are unacceptable and undermine foundational American ideals of democracy. However, impeachment, the House Democrats’ solution, is far too drastic a course of action for the US government. For one, the impeachment proceedings have further polarized an already divided country. “I think we are a lot more polarized than we used to be. As time has gone on, the split between the left and the right has grown more and more whereas I think, in at least the government and the media, people really want the same things,” Social Studies Teacher Belinda Eugster said. Instead of discouraging President Trump’s supporters, the impeachment has only energized them. Further, the impeachment inquiry seems politically motivated and paints Democratic politicians as conniving, calculated, and corrupt. In polls conducted by www.fivethirtyeight.com, Republican support for impeachment went from 11.8% in March 2019 to 11.4% in December 2019, seeing a slight decline, while Democratic support for impeachment went from 76.4% in March 2019 to 83.2% in December 2019, showing that the impeachment proceedings have done little to nothing to change the views of the people. Instead, the people have been further driven apart, creating a toxic political and social environment in the United States in which progress and improvement is nearly impossible.
With emotions and tensions running high, this impeachment inquiry has put government progress to a standstill, with both Republican and Democrats refusing to compromise over any issues. Further, relations between Democrats and Republicans have quickly deteriorated, turning constructive conversations into heated, personal attacks. On one such occasion, Rep. Matthew Gaetz, R-Fl, supported a proposal that argued President Trump acted out of fear for the whole country instead of political self-interest by referencing an article that delved deep into Hunter Biden’s substance abuse. He said, “It’s a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden … when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz rental car over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car.” Democrats immediately shot back and subtly called Gaetz out for a past DUI. These ad hominem attacks veer the discussions’ focuses towards personal attacks on opposing party members rather than the welfare of the country.
If the two major parties of this country are engaged in such a disagreement with no semblance of understanding for the opposing party, what kind of example does this set for citizens?
Instead of showing animosity and furthering the divide with an impeachment inquiry, House Democrats and Republicans alike should work toward fixing the broken relations and fostering healthy, productive conversations between the two parties. That doesn’t mean sacrificing core beliefs, but it does mean making compromises—that is the whole point of the two-party system. House Republicans and Democrats should, instead of attacking and belittling each other, come together to develop legislation that will help the country: increased gun background checks, climate accords, etc. These are much more important issues of today, and additionally, they are more likely to be fixed in this lifetime.
President Trump being removed from office is almost surely not going to happen because no matter how much incriminating evidence is brought against President Trump, only the Senate — which is currently majority Republican — can remove him from office. With the vote completely divided on party lines, the likelihood of Republican Senators voting President Trump out of office is — slim. This is iterated by Vox Reporter, “There are currently 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two independents (who generally vote with Democrats) in the Senate, meaning 20 GOP members would have to defect to convict Trump. That’s … very unlikely to happen, to put it mildly. Multiple Republican senators have signaled that their minds are already made up on impeachment, and it’s unclear whether any, let alone 20, are going to vote to convict.”
With it’s ultimately futile nature, this destructive and divisive impeachment inquiry has simply paralyzed the government and created a political environment in which citizens are not motivated by justice, goodwill, and integrity but rather, by a need to attack and destroy the opposing party.
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