Updated: Nov 10, 2019
On Sept. 26, a whistleblower complaint regarding President Trump and a phone call to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was released by the House Intelligence Committee. This followed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s announcement on Sept. 24 of a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump. What does all this mean? Here’s a quick debriefing of the whirlwind events of the past weeks.
On July 25, Trump had a phone call with Zelensky. During this phone call, Trump allegedly urged the Ukrainian president to look into allegations of corruption against 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son. Seeking the aid of a foreign government in a U.S. presidential election is illegal—the Federal Election Commission chair herself has said so.
Critics of Trump allege that by pressuring Zelensky to investigate Biden, Trump was essentially asking Ukraine to get him detrimental information about Biden. Some argue that this aligns with a comment Trump made in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in June 2019. When Stephanopoulos asked if Trump’s 2020 campaign would go to the FBI if they received information from another country on an opponent or if they would simply accept the information, Trump said, “I think maybe you do both; there’s nothing wrong with listening. If someone called from a country, ‘we have information on your opponent’... I think I’d want to hear it… It’s not an interference, they have information. I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong I’d go maybe to the FBI.” These sorts of remarks are thought by many to be rather incriminating now that it has been revealed that Trump called Ukraine and asked them to investigate one of his opponents. These remarks along with the call to Ukraine form the basis for the impeachment inquiry that Pelosi has started.
According to Reuters, as of Oct. 2 the Democrats have called several people involved in Trump’s dealings with Ukraine to testify to House members. This includes the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine as well as the former special representative to Ukraine. These two individuals’ testimonies could provide more legitimacy to the impeachment inquiry. The inquiry itself could, if it racks up enough evidence, lead to articles of impeachment, which would initiate the impeachment process against Trump. Of course, impeachment does not mean that the president will be removed from office, only that charges have been leveled against him.
If the House does end up impeaching Trump, that would lead to a trial in the Senate, where the decision on whether or not to remove him from office would be made. However, at the moment, Republicans control the Senate, so the likelihood of them removing Trump from office is fairly low.
By Olivia Slack, Online Editor