Impeachment Begins

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Jing Mae Wang

Future voters like Sylvie Klingborg ’21 keep up to date with impeachment by reading articles online.

On September 24th, 2019, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced an official impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. This inquiry came after an anonymous whistleblower complaint was released with a few redactions. The August 12th complaint brought to light that the whistleblower had “received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

The report detailed second-hand information revolving around a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy which was corroborated by a second whistleblower with a first-hand account. According to the whistleblowers, Trump spent July 25th seeking “to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the President’s 2020 reelection bid.”

As shown in a ‘Fox News’ poll from October 6th to 8th, support for impeachment and removal of Trump has risen to 51% from 42% in July. This same poll showed that only 17% believed that the Ukraine call was “appropriate,” while others described it as “an impeachable offense” or at least “inappropriate.”

“I think he deserves to answer for what he’s done, but I also fear the way that his followers will react,” said Sylvie Klingborg ’21.

However, Trump calling for foreign interference in elections is not a new accusation. The Mueller Report, released only half a year ago on April 18th, highlighted clear evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election, but failed to find the definitive link tying Trump to the crime.

Still, many had pointed to the Trump Administration’s actions to discredit and silence the investigation as independent grounds for impeachment. “The President of the United States obstructed justice,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “We begin impeachment proceedings now.”

Initial calls for impeachment were met with opposition from both sides of the political spectrum. Republicans, including Trump himself, deemed the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt.” Meanwhile, Democrats worried about the political repercussions of inciting Trump’s base.

“The president’s behavior in terms of its obstruction of justice is very clear,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in a May 23rd press conference. “Ignoring subpoenas, obstruction of justice. But impeachment is a very divisive place to go in our country.”

But with this most recent offense, Pelosi is willing to risk further dividing the nation. “The Trump administration’s actions undermine both our national security and our intelligence,” said Pelosi when she finally announced an official impeachment inquiry in September.

In the speech she gave at the press conference, she spoke on how the Inspector General testified that the acting Director of National Intelligence blocked him from disclosing the whistleblower complaint. Pelosi’s argument echoed that of Warren’s argument months previously, that Trump’s obstruction of justice alone acts as grounds for impeachment.

Although there is a large amount of support for impeachment, many still have reservations. “I think he deserves to answer for what he’s done, but I also fear the way that his followers will react,” said Sylvie Klingborg ’21.

The fear of what his base will do is a common one, as many critics of the Trump administration have been met with death threats from his supporters, such as Representative Ilhan Omar after Trump tweeted a video combining one of her speeches and footage from 9/11.

The possibility of becoming a target was not lost on the whistleblowers, with Democratic Representative Adam Schiff announcing on October 13th that the first whistleblower will not testify before Congress due to safety concerns.

This does not seem to be an issue, as only eight of the 235 House Democrats told ‘The New York Times’ that they did not support impeachment, while all of the 183 House Republicans who answered did not support impeachment.

The reservation of those eight Democrats may have to do with what Pelosi was wary of in May. Further dividing the nation and inflaming Trump’s conservative voters can potentially lead to Democrats losing 2020.

But others believe that one should not try to strategize when it comes to what is fundamentally right and wrong. “People shouldn’t excuse and ignore his crimes in order to reduce the extremity of future crimes or motivate him and his base to re-elect him,” said Pev Vail ’22.

No matter what this means for the 2020 election, it has consumed the day-to-day news and has shifted voter opinion. President Trump has left his mark on American politics. Whether the nation will be able to move on from the political divide or not is up to the new generation of voters.

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