Formal Impeachment Inquiry into President Donald Trump Announced

Peyton Upchurch
Staff Writer

PC: Mark Dixon

After several months of denying requests for impeachment inquiry procedures into President Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi launched a formal inquiry on Sept. 24. 

“The president must be held accountable…no one is above the law,” said Pelosi to the press. 

The decision to approve impeachment inquiry came just after a controversial phone call in which President Trump reportedly pushed the newly elected Ukranian president into investigating Trump’s political opponent Joe Biden.

The looming proceedings caused a massive political uproar in the Capitol, as only three other U.S. presidents have faced impeachment: Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, who resigned before he was impeached. 

On the day of the announcement, Pelosi issued a statement, saying, “…today, I am announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry…the actions of the Trump presidency revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.” 

Trump allegedly pressured the Ukranian government to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter, who worked for a Ukranian gas company, in a phone call on July 25, 2019. Trump denied the allegation on the morning of Sept. 24 in a speech to the UN General Assembly. He then took to Twitter, calling the allegations “a witch hunt” and “ridiculous,” as well as referring to the inquiry as “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT.”

Impeachment proceedings may take several months, and if the House impeaches President Trump, the Senate would then deliberate on whether or not to remove him from office. This process would take longer, and would mean the potential for Senate impeachment proceedings during the presidential election year and in the midst of the Democratic primary elections. 

House Democrats are largely credited for the push for impeachment gaining momentum. John Lewis (D-GA) took to the House floor to voice his concerns. 

“We cannot delay,” said Lewis. “We must not wait. Now is the time to act. I have been patient while we tried every other path and used every other tool. We will never find the truth unless we use the power given to the House of Representatives, and the House alone, to begin an official investigation as dictated by the Constitution. The future of our democracy is at stake. I believe, I truly believe, the time to begin impeachment proceedings against this president has come. To delay or to do otherwise would betray the foundation of our democracy.”

Freshman representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told the press that it was detrimental to delay proceedings due to Trump’s, “unprecedented,” actions continuing to escalate. Ocasio-Cortez told reporters she felt that the country did not have, “the luxury of time,” to wait for the 2020 presidential election. 

Pelosi reportedly met with the Democratic caucus on the afternoon of Sept. 24, although a slight majority of Democrats in the House were in favor of beginning impeachment proceedings before the incident with the Ukranian president. Since the news about the call came out in a whistleblower complaint by someone in the intelligence community, even more Democrats have expressed their desire for a formal impeachment inquiry to take place. 

In his speech to the UN General Assembly, Trump did report that he put a hold on money to Ukraine, but he upheld his statement that it had nothing to do with investigating Biden. He said he put a hold on the aid “because—very important, very important, I want other countries to put up money. I think it’s unfair that we put up the money, but then people call me and they say, ‘Oh, let it go, and I let it go.'”

Trump pushed further by saying that the pressure was “put on by Biden…what Joe Biden did for his son, that’s something they should be looking at.” This accusation has been looked into, yet there is no evidence condemning Biden. Under an Obama-era policy agreed upon by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other allied nations, Biden threatened to withhold funding from the Ukraine unless a corrupt prosecutor was removed from office. 

The President also added that there was never a “quid pro quo” for holding money to Ukraine; however, three House intelligence committee members reported in a letter to White House counsel that an explicit “quid pro quo” is not necessary to classify as an impeachable offense. The letter also stated that the hold was suspicious because the Ukraine is under the threat of Russia and relies heavily on U.S. aid. 

“It is, therefore, particularly vulnerable to pressure from a U.S. President,” the committee members wrote in the letter demanding that documents relating to the Ukrainian call be published. “Exploiting that vulnerability to advance the president’s personal political interests—whether or not the President ever expressly tied his request to a quid pro quo—subverts the constitutional duties he is sworn to uphold and presents an acute crisis for our democracy.”

Pelosi reaffirmed this view to the press, expressing that any effort to pressure a foreign government into assisting in an investigation of a political opponent would be “wrong.” 

Trump’s tweet promising to release the call transcripts came soon after. Representative Adam Schiff, one of the committee chairs that penned the letter to the White House counsel, then announced that the whistleblower was willing to testify within days of the impeachment inquiry approval. 

“We have been informed by the whistleblower’s counsel that their client would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance from the Acting DNI as to how to do so,” tweeted Schiff. “We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.”

President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has admitted to pressuring Ukrainian officials into investigating Biden, and even met with one in Madrid in a meeting orchestrated by the U.S. State Department. 

The dilemma in such a situation is that the Trump administration has control over the documents that answer the questions that Congress currently has. This gives a sort of power to those not in favor of impeachment; they are able to perpetuate the idea that more information is needed to reach a decision on the matter. 

However, Democrats will likely continue to put pressure on the Republican Party to present proof that the president did nothing wrong. 

Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) told the press that, “the onus is on {the Republicans} in the administration to prove that there wasn’t some serious wrongdoing here, given that the president’s lawyer said it openly…he admitted it, so the onus is on them…otherwise, I think we know we need to move to another tack here.”



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