With allegations of illegal activity in communications with Ukraine, the Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. This 2020 election, therefore, is more crucial than ever as the country will get to decide whether the president’s wrongdoing is enough to prevent reelection, or if despite the Democrats’ allegations, the White House will see another four years of Trump.
An impeachment inquiry is not a full-on impeachment process, but rather a more formal form of an investigation where the Democrats will call on whistleblowers, those in the government who come forward about potential illegal actions, and the White House to turn over information on the president’s conversation with the Ukrainian President.
In a whistleblower complaint regarding the July conversation that started the inquiry (launched on Sept. 24), the president allegedly asked the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a major Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential election, and his son.
“I think the charges the Democrats are making is that [Trump] used his office to try to solicit [foreign] pressure, and they’re making a broad implication that he was tying the distribution of military aide [to the Ukraine] that Congress had already passed and allocated; he was withholding that until they agreed that they were going to investigate Joe Biden,” Thomas Kuhn, AP Government teacher, said while also noting that this wasn’t explicitly said but can be implied.
An important note about this process is that impeachment does not mean removal from office, but impeachment is initiated by the House of Representatives to look into allegations of wrongdoing. If articles of impeachment are filed and passed, then the Senate, not the House, will be the one to decide if the president should be removed from office.
“Impeachment is kind of comparable, in criminal law, to the grand jury,” Michelle Bonadies, AP Government teacher, said while also stating that the Senate can be thought of as the trial jury; the Senate has the sole power to convict and remove the president from office. A grand jury is a body that looks at the evidence to see if there is enough of it for a case to go to trial.
If the Democrats’ inquiry turns up evidence of wrongdoing, it will be easy for impeachment to occur because impeachment only requires a simple majority in the House, and the Democrats have the majority. Actual removal, however, of President Trump would be more difficult as a two-thirds vote is needed to remove a president from office, and that would require significant bipartisan support.
Since it is illegal for the president to ask for a foreign power to interfere in U.S. elections, such as with an investigation of the potential Democratic frontrunner, and if the Democrats turn up enough evidence of such wrongdoing, as the released transcripts between Trump and Ukraine alluded to and as the whistleblowers asserted, the president should be impeached.
“It’s against the law to have any foreign government interfere with our elections because if a foreign government is interfering with our elections, they’re looking out for their interests, not our interests,” Kuhn said.
Furthermore, the president will most likely not be removed from office; there is not enough support for a two-thirds vote in the Senate, and while impeachment can still happen before the 2020 election, it is more likely that the Democrats will present their findings to the public and let the voters decide what is best for the country. This would be a smart move to make as it would allow the voters to have a say and would truly showcase our democratic processes.
“What I think is going to happen is that [the Democrats] are going to do the inquiry and the investigation…and they’re going to publish the findings so the voters can clearly see everything they dig up, and then they’ll back off and not vote to impeach, and they’ll say, ‘This is close to the election; we’ll let the American public decide’,” Kuhn said.
The Democrats, throughout Trump’s presidency, have attacked and [called] to impeach the president, but his supporters have not backed down. So, if the Democrats choose to fully pursue impeachment and move beyond an inquiry, it could backfire.
“Trying to make him look bad is what they’ve been doing all along, and it’s not working. It didn’t work the first time, so if they continue on the track of trying to constantly make him look evil instead of trying to better their own image, it’s not going to work,” Jori Oztunguc, senior, said.
The president’s reaction to the inquiry is also suspicious and, frankly, unprofessional. Congress is requesting that the White House turn over documents related to the situation, but the president has responded by saying that the White House will not turn over evidence until the House takes a full vote on the impeachment inquiry matter.
Although I respect the presidential office and the presidential position, the executive branch should not and is not removed from the oversight powers given to Congress.
Bonadies agreed and stated that the president is, essentially, stonewalling. She also emphasized that the president does not get to dictate whether or not the White House turns over evidence and that Trump does not possess the constitutional power to demand a full House vote.
Another point that our nation has to be aware of is that we need to be doing the impeachment process for the right reason– to put a president who, if illegal actions are uncovered and proven, infringed on the integrity of his office, out of the White House for the purpose of protecting our country, not for advancing partisan interests.
“This isn’t just about parties; this is about protecting our democracy and our elections, and I think that’s the most alarming thing is that we might not even have true elections,” Nicole Nowicki, senior, said. “I think it’s really important that people just try to look at the facts [and we need to think about] how do we have an actual, formulated democracy without corruption.”
What this country needs is bipartisan cooperation in order to truly discover any wrongdoing by the president. If wrongdoing is discovered, no partisan interests should block a process meant to preserve the integrity of our country.
Finally, citizens across the United States need to be aware of this inquiry, consider the faults and biases of both sides and make a decision to whether we should keep the president in office or not with the 2020 election.