Impeachment Begins


Only two Presidents in history have been impeached by the House of Representatives—Bill Clinton in 1998 and Andrew Johnson in 1868. However, in order to actually remove a President from office, two-thirds of the Senate then has to vote to accept the articles of impeachment passed by the House, in which case the President would be removed. In the case of both Clinton and Johnson, this did not happen; however, most agree that if Richard Nixon had not resigned when he did prior to being impeached, he likely would have been removed from office for the Watergate scandal. 

   I mention this because I think it’s important to understand the context for the impeachment proceedings recently filed against President Trump by House Democrats. Although only one President in history has been forced to leave office because of the threat of being removed via the impeachment process, it remains a powerful tool that the legislature can use to keep the President in check. 

   As a result, many Democrats and others on the left began calling for some sort of formal impeachment inquiry almost as soon as Trump was elected, either for being improperly associated with his businesses and apparently using his status as President to enrich himself, allegedly enlisting the help of foreign actors to give himself a boost during the election or other reasons. Until this point, however, the position of the House Democratic leadership is that there has not been a clear violation of the law that could be tied directly to Trump which would classify as “high crimes and misdemeanors”, which is the constitutional standard to begin the impeachment process. 

   That all changed last week when a whistleblower, a (now former) government employee, revealed that Trump had apparently tried to initiate a “quid pro quo” with the leader of Ukraine—in other words, Trump had withheld military aid to the country, which remains embroiled in internal strife between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian forces, in exchange for potential dirt on Joe Biden, who may have made some shady deals in the country when he was serving as Obama’s VP.

   There are basically two things about the origins of this impeachment process I would like to note. First, I’d like to point out the massive hypocrisy currently being displayed by members of the House Democratic Caucus, particularly the establishment leaders like Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff. They talk lovingly about this particular whistleblower that has revealed Trump’s crime and pledge to do anything they can to protect him against the administration’s nefarious plotting. Yet, many of these same people would respond with disgust and monotonous talking points if anyone so much as dared to mention Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning—two whistleblowers who revealed that the US government had not only been spying illegally and unconstitutionally on its own citizens as well as foreign leaders, but that US troops in Iraq had been killing journalists, medics and other civilians for sport, largely without consequence. Perhaps Snowden and Manning’s failure in attracting these Democrats’ adoration comes from the fact that their revelations came out when Obama was President, not big bad Trump. In any case, today Manning is in prison and Snowden is in hiding in Russia, while the Trump whistleblower is living rent-free on the Impeachment Express. 

   The other main thing I want to point out is how many in the media and Washington are content to ignore the other half of this story, which is the corruption that took place in Ukraine during the Obama administration. Apparently, Joe Biden did basically the same thing Trump is being accused of—holding aid money over the Ukraine government’s head in order to extract some political concession, in the case of Biden, this being the firing of a non-corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating Biden’s corruption involving his son, Hunter Biden, who around this time had been hired to the board of a Ukrainian energy company and given a huge salary, despite having no background in the industry. If one was to take an unbiased view, then one would conclude that if Trump is being held accountable for this scandal, then so should Biden. 

   This all isn’t to say that what Trump is accused of is unimportant or not worth investigation. On the contrary, although I did not think impeachment would have been a good strategic move for the Democrats previously, and still think it probably will turn out not to be, I think, on principle, the Democrats should pursue impeachment at this time as they finally have something solid which would satisfy the constitutional standard for impeaching. Frankly, I think there’s a near-zero chance Trump will actually be removed from office, but as a matter of principle, an inquiry, at the very least, is called for.