Trump and Impeachment

Constitution

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Over the past few weeks, efforts to start an impeachment inquiry for US President, Donald Trump, have accelerated as new information arises regarding the President’s contact with the government of Ukraine. With events happening so quickly, it can be overwhelming for the average American to fully understand what’s going on.

What’s Impeachment and How Does it Work?

Impeachment is the process used to charge, try, or remove a public official from office through a legislative body. A common misconception with impeachment is that it is solely for the removal of government officials when in reality it is more commonly used for charging and conducting trials against an official. The process of impeachment is a constitutional power belonging to Congress as a defense against corruption. This can be against the highest-ranking federal official or the lowest ranking cabinet member. The process begins in the House of Representatives with a public inquiry into the allegations of whomever it may concern. If necessary, a trial with the Senate will commence. The trial may vary from state or federal level depending on the crime and or the person(s) involved. When convicted, the defendant can be removed from their position, although not required.

What is Considered an Impeachable Offense?

According to Article Two, Section Four, of the Constitution of the United States;

“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.”

According to Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers, an impeachable offense can also include “Violation of public trust”. Very vague.

Instances of Presidential Impeachments in the Past

Only two presidents in US history have ever been impeached. In 1867, President Andrew Johnson was impeached for violation of the Tenure of Office Act which prohibited the president from removing officials appointed by the Senate without their approval. The other instance was in 1998 against President Bill Clinton for obstruction of justice in the investigation of his affair with his secretary, Monika Lewinski. Neither instance resulted in the president’s removal from office.

Richard Nixon, in 1974, was almost impeached for his involvement in the break-in of the Democratic Headquarters known as the Watergate Scandal; Nixon resigned before he could be convicted.

Donald Trump and Impeachment

President Donald Trump has been the subject of controversy regarding impeachable offenses since 2016. Much of it pertains to the investigations of the Muller report, a report documenting the alleged collusion of the Trump Administration with the Russian government during the 2016 US elections. The investigation resulted in his campaign manager chairman, Paul Manafort, and other campaign organizers such as, Richard Gates, Trump’s national security advisor, Micheal Flynn, and Trump’s personal attorney, Micheal Cohen, being charged with conspiracy against the United States, fraud, tax evasion, and contact with 12 Russian intelligence officers who allegedly hacked the Democratic National Committee. Trump was questioned and found to be not involved in any collusion. It should be noted that the full unredacted report has not yet been released, with many claiming Trump had much deeper connections in the case. Needless to say, there have been many calling for his impeachment.

Trump, Ukraine, and Biden.

In late July 2019, President Donald Trump contacted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, urging him to probe and collect information on prominent Democrat, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden in their involvement in a Ukrainian natural gas company. According to the whistleblower complaint, Trump had allegedly planned to cut foreign aid to Ukraine if Zelensky refused to do so.

After the whistleblower complaint, Trump was pressured into releasing the call transcript. When the transcript was released, it confirmed Trump’s willingness to get Ukraine to investigate Biden. Although not specifically stated, it is implied that Trump wants the information on his political rival for the upcoming 2020 election. Democrats in the House of Representatives have formally started the impeachment hearings and are currently in the process of gathering the information needed to proceed further with the trials. Many Democrats claim that Trump’s call to Zelensky is in violation of 52 US Code 30121 which states;

“It shall be unlawful for a foreign national to make or indirectly, to make a contribution or donation of money or other things of value, or to make any express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;”

Many see the urging of Zelensky to investigate the Bidens as foreign involvement in federal elections.

What Does This Mean?

The House of Representatives has started the inquiry which is the first stage of the impeachment process. In order for the process to continue, ⅔ majority of the Senate would have to agree to impeach the President. The Senate is majority Republican, meaning that there is likely going to be fierce party loyalty over all else. Former seventh director of the FBI, James Comey, will testify in front of the Senate this following week in an effort to sway Republicans towards the furthering of the impeachment process.

Sources:

(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/trump-impeachment-proceedings-trigger-caution-and-a-little-schadenfreude-overseas/ar-AAHOXQy.

52 U.S. Code § 30121 – Contributions and donations by foreign nationals. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/52/30121.

Clark Mindock New York @ClarkMindock. (2017, June 8). Democrats start impeachment proceedings against Trump. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/News/world/americas/us-politics/trump-impeachment-removal-democrats-begin-proceedings-al-green-a7778301.html.

History.com Editors. (2017, June 8). Impeachment. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/us-government/impeachment-in-us-history.

III, E. M., Spalding, M., Forte, D., Forte, D., & Spalding, M. (n.d.). The Heritage Guide to The Constitution. Retrieved from https://www.heritage.org/constitution/#!/?_escaped_fragment_=/articles/1/essays/11/impeachment.

impeachment. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/impeachment.

Mccaskill, N. D. (2017, November 15). Six Democrats demand Trump impeachment hearings. Retrieved from https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/15/trump-impeachment-democrats-244927.

Read the full, redacted Mueller report. (2019, April 18). Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/politics/read-the-mueller-report/.

Trump call summary shows he pressed Ukrainian president to probe Biden. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ukraine-transcript-read-ukraine-president-phone-call-transcript-pdf-released-today-joe-biden-crowdstrike-2019-09-25/.

Trump impeachment inquiry: The short, medium and long story. (2019, October 2). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49800181.