Opinion: Donald Trump should be impeached


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US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meet in New York on September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Gavin McCarthy, Contributing Writer

On July 25, President Donald Trump engaged in a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Nearly two months later, a government whistleblower alleged that Trump had asked Zelensky to investigate political challenger Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s finances in Ukraine during the call. Federal law specifically prohibits pressuring foreign adversaries for political gain, and it was later revealed that Trump and many of his advisers were fully aware of this fact.

In response to the scandal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched an impeachment inquiry into the President after months of hesitation, saying that “…the Trump administration’s policies [violate] our national security and our protection.” It is clear that Trump should be impeached and convicted of abuse of power, which would remove him from public office and uphold the rule of law.

Before discussing the accusations against Trump, it is necessary to clear up a misconception surrounding the impeachment process. As only three presidents have been impeached, many conservatives have claimed that impeachment was designed to be rare and reserved for only the most heinous of offenses. However, this view does not reflect the wording of the Constitution, which frames misdemeanors, or criminal infractions that are less serious than felonies, as grounds for impeachment. Trump’s actions are, and the Democrats’ decision to launch an impeachment inquiry is completely reasonable.

There is little question that Trump engaged in the impropriety described by the whistleblower. On Sept. 26, Trump ordered the White House to release a paraphrased transcript of the call. While he should be commended for his transparency, he effectively implicated himself. Trump asked Zelensky to “do us a favor” and investigate the Bidens, citing two unsubstantiated theories surrounding their activity in Ukraine.

Trump first mentioned Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity firm that some Republicans believe conspired with the DNC during the 2016 election to bolster Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Not only is there no conclusive evidence that Crowdstrike favored Clinton, but it is not even a Ukrainian company; it was founded in California by a Ukrainian national and operates exclusively in the United States.

Furthermore, Trump referenced a 2016 incident in which Joe Biden threatened to withhold one billion dollars of aid to Ukraine as Vice President if they did not remove unpopular prosecutor Viktor Shokin from office. He claimed that Biden did this in order to benefit the Ukraine-based natural gas company Burisma, which Biden’s son sat on the board of. If true, this would create a massive conflict of interest and would be grounds for the termination of his Presidential candidacy. However, Biden’s threat, as well as his numerous trips to Ukraine, were diplomatic in nature. As an agent of the State Department, Biden sought to remove Shokin because of his obliviousness and complicity on corruption in Ukraine. It is highly unlikely that the State Department cared about Hunter Biden’s financial fortitude.

Asking a foreign power to investigate borderline conspiracy theories is wrong. However, even if the accusations against the Bidens were credible, Trump’s conduct would still be illegal. Rather than coercing a foreign power into conducting an investigation, the President should have utilized the services of the Department of Justice. It is likely that Trump talked to President Zelensky rather than the DOJ in order to acquire the most incriminating information.

It eventually came out that Trump was not alone in his decision to pressure Zelensky. From October 2 to October 4, The New York Times reported that figures such as Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Vice President Mike Pence all knew about or listened in on the call. Furthermore, efforts to hide the records of the call were made, such as incorrectly classifying related documents as top secret, suggesting knowledge of guilt.

Trump’s defense has been weak and appalling since the whistleblower first spoke out. He called the impeachment inquiry a “coup,” lamented that the impeachment inquiry could “lead to civil war,” tweeted about nonexistent corruption by Speaker Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Leader Adam Schiff, and even implied that the whistleblower should be executed, likening him to a spy. These are not the words of an innocent man.

Many believe the Democrats are insincere in their motives for impeachment, and are only acting on a vendetta against Donald Trump. However, the move to impeach an incumbent President often bolsters support for said incumbent. The Democrats were aware of this, but chose to affirm the nation’s ethos anyway, putting them at risk of electoral collapse in 2020. Furthermore, removing Trump from office would result in Mike Pence becoming President. Pence is farther to the right than Trump, and is a tribune of the Republican establishment; this is far from ideal for the Democrats.

By failing to remove Trump from office, Congress will have failed to stand up for the sanctity of the office of President itself. The Leader of the Free World is expected to behave ethically, legally, and in agreement with America’s bedrock values as a nation. In that infamous call on July 25, Trump demonstrated that he did not care to uphold any of these. Removal is not out of the question; the House has the votes to impeach, and a new revelation might push the Senate over the edge of conviction. I hope that the Senate Republicans will forgo partisan loyalty and put America first.