Impeachment: Whats the Scoop?

Rachel Harris, Staff Writer

Buckle up kids, we’re going to be talking about impeachment. Most of you probably know at least the basics (Trump was impeached, but that doesn’t mean he’s removed from office), but I’m here so that you can impress your friends and family with your in-depth knowledge of the political workings of our country. 

Let’s start from the beginning. Over this last summer, the Trump Administration held a multitude of sketchy conversations with the Ukrainian government, culminating in a phone call between Trump and Ukranian President Zelensky. The reason these contacts are questionable is the Trump administration’s desire to instigate a quid pro quo (“something for something”) with Ukraine. US officials and Trump himself made it explicitly clear that if Ukraine wanted military aid from the US, or for Zelensky to be able to meet with Trump, they would need to open an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of Trump’s political rival and Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden. 

In August, a whistleblower complaint about this was made by an anonymous person, though the complaint was withheld from Congress on the order of the acting director of national intelligence. On September 20th, the Wall Street Journal broke the story, and it immediately became a front page scandal. Many prominent Democrats called for impeachment straight away, and, on September 26th, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that six Congressional committees would begin an impeachment inquiry. 

In early October, these committees heard depositions from a number of officials, and this led to the House passing a resolution to officially begin impeachment proceedings on the 30th of October. Beginning November 13th, the Intelligence Committee held public hearings on impeachment, hearing from a number of witnesses. These witnesses ranged from Marie Yovanovitch, former US ambassador to Ukraine, to Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council aide who worked on Ukraine, to Fiona Hill, former director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, to EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, and many more. The hearings lasted two weeks, with the Committee hearing over 30 hours of testimony from twelve witnesses. Though the witnesses varied on the severity of their disapproval of the president’s actions, no one thought that his actions were good. 

On December 4th, the House Judiciary Committee heard from a panel of Constitutional lawyers, of whom three out of four said Trump had committed impeachable offences. 

The next day, Pelosi announced that the House would draw up impeachment articles. On December 14th, the House voted to impeach Trump on two articles: abuse of power (for the quid pro quo) and obstruction of Congress (by refusing to release any documents related to his actions). The vote was along party lines, with only two Democrats voting against the abuse of power article, and three voting against the obstruction of Congress article. 

A brief interlude to explain the overall impeachment process: the House only decides whether an impeachable offence has occurred, and investigates to see either way. If they find that there is enough evidence to support impeachment, the articles are then sent to trial in the Senate, where the decision is made to whether or not to convict the president. In this trial, select House members (called House Managers and chosen by Speaker Pelosi) act as prosecutors, while the Senators act as jurors. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court acts as judge of the trial. If the president is convicted (which takes a two-thirds majority), they are immediately removed from office, and can then be prosecuted as a normal citizen. Interlude over, back to Trump’s impeachment. 

After the vote, Pelosi decided not to immediately send the articles over to the Senate, waiting until January 15th to do so. Pelosi gave four reasons for the unusual delay: one, to pressure Republicans into allowing there to be witnesses during the trial; two, to allow the public time to see more “documentation which the president has prevented from coming to the Congress”; three, to show contrast between Democrats in the House and Republicans in the Senate, who she claims are not taking their jobs seriously; and four, that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel stated publicly that he was working with the White House on impeachment strategy (since the Senate is supposed to act as the jury in the trail, the Senate Leader should not be working with the defendant on a strategy). Along with sending the articles, Pelosi appointed seven House Managers to prosecute the case. 

Also on the 15th (guys literally so much stuff happened that day), an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer, Lev Parnas, gave a shocking interview on TV. In this interview, Parnas alleged that Trump knew exactly what was going on in Ukraine, and that Vice President Mike Pence, along with other high ranking officials, were also in on it. He went on to say that all aid, not just military, was threatened to be withheld from Ukraine, and that a Republican congressional candidate was monitoring the movements of Ambassador Yovanovitch (who, if you remember, was a witness in the House’s impeachment hearings). None of these allegations have been confirmed, though they may be in the coming days. The President denies all of them. 

On January 16th, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts was sworn in as the trial Judge, and the Senators were sworn in as jurors. The Senate then issued official summons for President Trump, and scheduled the trial to resume on January 21st. Tragically, the print deadline for the Tiger Times is the 17th, so this is all the summary I can provide. The week of the 21st should be very interesting though.