On December 18, 2019 the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald J. Trump, charging the President with abusing the power of his position in regard to his conversations with the Ukrainian President in July of 2019 and obstructing Congress in their efforts to investigate the President’s actions. President Trump is now the third U.S. President to be impeached in American history, the other two being Andrew Johnson, the 14th president, and Bill Clinton, the 42nd president. President Richard Nixon, commonly thought to be impeached, resigned from office prior to a House impeachment vote.
What is President Trump accused of?
The President is accused of withholding foreign aid to Ukraine in hopes that it would pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President and 2020 democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
Why is President Trump interested in Hunter Biden?
Hunter Biden sat on the board of one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies, Burisma Holdings. According to the company, Hunter Biden’s position was to provide advice on legal issues and corporate strategies. However, Hunter Biden argues that this was not accurate and that he never was in charge of the company’s legal affairs. It is also reported that Hunter Biden received up to $50,000 per month while on the board, totaling $600,000 per year. Hunter Biden was on the board for five years and his term ended in April of 2019.
President Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have suggested that then Vice President Biden pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who had been investigating Burisma Holdings. They claim that such an action would be abuse of Biden’s previous office, and that it must be investigated to ensure corruption did not occur.
Where are these abuse of power allegations coming from?
On July 25, 2019, President Trump made a phone call to Ukraine President Zelensky. The conversation prompted a whistleblower complaint to Congressman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina and chairman of the Senate Committee on Intelligence. This whistleblower claims that he received information that President Trump “is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring from a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals.” In summary, this whistleblower claims that associates who report they were on this July phone call told the whistleblower that the President appeared to be abusing the power of his office and position. The whistleblower was not on the call and his claims are based on secondhand accounts and information.
What does the call transcript say?
One September 25, 2019, the White House released the transcript of the July call with Ukraine. This transcript is comprised of detailed notes written by those on the call and is not a word-for-word transcript. In the transcript, President Trump does not appear to tell President Zelenksy that he is withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in aid unless Ukraine investigates the Bidens. On the other hand, critics point out that the President said, “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” which they believe shows him asking Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. President Trump is allegedly referring to a DNC data breach that occurred during the 2016 election and not to the Bidens.
What is the President’s defense?
Republican lawmakers and President Trump have presented evidence to debunk the claim that Ukrainian President Zelensky felt pressured by President Trump to investigate the Bidens. This stems from Zelensky himself saying that he felt no pressure. Allegedly, the Ukrainians were not even aware that aid was held up. Additionally, the aid was eventually released, and the hold was lifted. The President has also called the impeachment a witch-hunt and that his asking of Ukraine to investigate corruption is, and should be, acceptable. The President has emphasized that there is scant Republican support for impeachment, if any, and not a single House Republican voted in favor of impeachment. The whistleblower is also anonymous and has not testified in front of Congress. Republicans have pushed back on the closed-door hearings that democratic leaders have overseen and have spoken out against Adam Schiff’s interpretation of the call memo in which he provides his own interpretation of it.
What did the House conclude in their Impeachment Inquiry?
The House moved forward with the impeachment process and voted on two articles of impeachment: one due to President Trump’s alleged abuse of power in his conversation with Ukraine and the other being obstruction of Congress. The obstruction of Congress article pushes back against the President’s use of executive privilege.
How did the House vote on each article?
Article I: Abuse of Power Article II: Obstruction of Congress
Yes: 230 Yes: 229
No: 197 No: 198
So what is next?
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has delayed sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate where a trial is to take place. Some speculate that Speaker Pelosi is doing this to give herself leverage in trial negations with Senate leaders as it is essentially up to them to decide how the trial is run. The trial is presided by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts. Evidence is presented and the President is allowed to have counsel represent him in the trial. Senators then deliberate in private on the charges since they are to serve as an impartial jury and vote on whether or not the President should be removed from office for his alleged actions. 67 votes are required in the Senate to remove the president from office. Currently, there are 53 Republican Senators, making them the majority.
What if President Trump is removed?
Under Section 1 of the 25th Amendment of the United States constitution, Vice President Michael Pence would become President.