What you need to know about the impeachment inquiry

“No one is above the law,” stated Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, Sept. 24. 

It was on this day the House of Representatives publicly announced an impeachment inquiry would begin into the presidency of Donald Trump. 

Spurred by an alleged quid pro quo (granting a favor in exchange for a favor) involving Ukraine, Joe Biden and President Trump, a formal investigation is officially underway.

Impeachment, especially that of a president, is a long and complicated process. Impeachment itself is defined in the U.S. Constitution as “the President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States upon a determination that such officers have engaged in treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” 

This statement has judicial undertones, as the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors” is subjective. Normally, within the United States government, it is the duty of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution. In this case, the House of Representatives determine whether an official’s actions are that of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Currently, the House of Representatives are in the impeachment inquiry phase of a much larger process. This means that the President’s actions must be investigated and confirmed as reason to proceed with removal from office.  So, President Trump is not currently being impeached. Yet, his actions do elicit an inquiry.

This impeachment inquiry will look into the claims against President Trump. If substantial evidence is acquired to condemn him, the official impeachment process begins with the articles of impeachment. These articles outline the exact terms by which the president would be impeached. The majority of the House must then vote that these articles are valid and elicit an impeachment. This process includes a trial by the Senate where they will decide to convict or acquit the president. Sixty-seven members of the Senate (or two-thirds) must vote to convict the president for said conviction to proceed. Nonetheless, a president can still be impeached without being convicted. 

This past September marked the fourth inquiry in U.S. history. Pelosi announced the inquiry soon after a phone call made by President Donald Trump to Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky. This phone call took place July 25. Following the call, a whistleblower issued a complaint about the alleged corrupt content of the call. This whistleblower is still anonymous. A rough transcript of the phone call has since been released, along with an official statement from the whistleblower.

One specific portion of this call contains what has become the center of investigations in the impeachment inquiry. In the midst of the call, Trump insinuated that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, should be investigated by the Ukrainian government. Joe Biden is a frontrunning candidate for the Democratic party in the 2020 Elections. Officials are investigating whether this call can be summarized as President Trump using his position to influence a foreign government to interfere in next years’ elections. Trump has previously been accused of similar dealings with the Russian government in 2016. While this not being investigated any longer, it has been included as a reason for an impeachment inquiry. 

Donald Trump, while he is being investigated, is not being impeached as of right now. In order for an impeachment to occur, officials must compile enough evidence to formally prompt impeachment articles. This process could take a long time and may proceed even as campaigning for the 2020 presidential elections begin. For now, the inquiry proceeds and the public must stay tuned. 

Yet, is the public even tuning in? 

Trump’s presidency has been chaotic, stressful and demoralizing. It is hard and painful to watch the news. Most of us, I would hope, gave up a long time ago. 

No one likes to think about children torn from their parents and international tension because of Trump’s loose lips are sinking ships. For almost four years we’ve been biting our nails and reminding ourselves that things will eventually be okay. 

I, for one, have been embarrassed. President Trump created himself a safety net, maybe unconsciously before he was even voted into office. Since the beginning, Trump has shown us who he is: brash, bewildering and forthright. Many see these qualities as solutions to the problems they have condemned past politicians for. Trump trekked an ablaze campaign path in 2016 with controversy leaking through his teeth. The world watched as this candidate made fun of a disabled reporter and narrowly addressed the reported incidents of sexual misconduct. The bar is low, so low, that when one speech is strung together with integrity the nation applauds. 

The United States has held different standards for each President. And as stated before, the Constitution’s outline for impeachment is subjective. It is worth asking, the actions of Donald Trump from the beginning of his campaign to each passing day, would they have elicited an impeachment inquiry for any other President? Yes, of course they would have. Regardless of Republican or Democratic affiliation, we have held higher standards for most Presidents and such behavior would not have been tolerated before. Imagine for one moment that Barack Obama had been the one to address the white supremacy marches and stated that there are “Very fine people on both sides.” The uproar would have been deafening from the blue parts of the country and red parts of the country. Now, imagine if Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush had said this. Again, one can imagine the reaction from both Democrats and Republicans alike. Even almost thirty years ago this would have been unacceptable. So why now, in our more interconnected world, was this blown over after a week of media coverage? 

The grievances Trump has racked up these four years have been numerous and worrisome. All in an effort to make America great again, we have watched the leader of our nation fire any official who interrupted his reign, have shady dealings with Russia and other nations, not release his tax returns, mock the public, threaten nuclear war, leave ethnic groups to parish and maybe most of all, tear children apart from their parents and take from families the only life, liberty or pursuit of happiness they’ve ever known. 

I must ask you to spin the wheel, pick a President from the last 40 years if something Trump has done would have been acceptable during their term and then answer me this: is it acceptable now?