According to the Constitution of the United States, impeachment is a process by which civil leaders are charged with “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Impeachment may lead to the removal of a leader from office, but it doesn’t have to.
On Sept. 24, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the launch of an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. The grounding accusations are that Trump, on a phone call, improperly asked Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to dig up dirt on former vice president and Trump’s current 2020 election rival, Joe Biden.
Why would Trump ask Ukraine? Trump claimed that in 2015, Joe Biden urged for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor because the prosecutor was investigating a Ukrainian energy company that Biden’s son, Hunter, was working for.
To date there has been no evidence suggesting that Biden colluded with Ukraine for the benefit of his son. What makes Trump’s claim less probable is that Biden was acting in a group with the U.S. government, the European Union, and the International Monetary Fund as part of an anti-corruption initiative—not alone.
Shortly before the call in July of 2019, Trump prevented millions of dollars of Congress approved military aid that was intended to protect Ukraine from Russia. It’s possible that the aid was suspended so that Trump could use it as a bargaining chip for Ukraine’s compliance in investigating Biden, but the president denies this.
Zelensky seemed eager to please Trump on the July phone call. He threw Ukraine’s European allies under the bus by agreeing “1000%” to Trump’s statement that European leaders are unfairly not protecting Ukraine in forms of sanctions against Russia as much as the U.S. is. This was not well-thought out by Zelensky, given that Ukraine is trying to become a member country of the European Union.
Unfortunately, Zelensky has little political experience. He has only been serving as president of Ukraine since May of 2019. Before the election, he was an actor, comedian, and screenwriter. Perhaps Trump is also using this, along with Ukraine’s dependency on the U.S. to protect the country against Russia, to his advantage.
As alluded to previously, this isn’t the first time Trump has been accused of working with foreign powers to influence election results. The Special Counsel investigation, led by Robert Mueller, investigated Trump’s ties with Russia prior to and during the 2016 elections. The Mueller Report, published in April 2019 with the results of the investigation, did not present enough evidence to convict Trump.
However, Mueller specified that the report did not exonerate the president either. Hopefully, the House of Representatives will be able to find evidence to convict Trump this time around.
Even if the president is impeached by the House, the authority to remove Trump from office is in the hands of the Senate. Two-thirds of the Senate must vote towards removal from office. Out of the 67 votes required to approve Trump’s removal, 22 of them must be Republican votes. It remains to be seen if the impeachment and removal of Trump will be successful.