The Impeachment Inquiry for Dummies

Raina Carfaro, Scarlet Staff

Let’s begin with the players. On the offense we have Nancy Pelosi as The Speaker of The House and Adam Schiff as The Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. These two are the ones who first launched the investigation. On the defense we have, of course, Donald Trump as our near and dear President of the United States. He’s the one in trouble. Playing for Team Trump is his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Mike Pompeo (Secretary of State), Mick Mulvaney (Acting White House Chief of Staff), and a few others that we’ll get to.

It all starts with Ukraine. I urge you to read my previous Scarlet article “Ukraine And Australia?” which summarizes the Ukrainian scandal more in depth – you can find it on the Scarlet’s website. However, here is the simplest articulation of the very complicated events surrounding that one damn phone call: On July 25th, Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a phone call in which President Trump urged Zelensky to investigate, or at least announce investigations, of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Previous to this, Donald Trump had ordered a halt on all aid to Ukraine (which was needed to fight Russian aggression). An unnamed intelligence official (the oh so scandalous whistleblower) wrote a formal complaint expressing concern about the Zelensky-Trump phone call, effectively alerting everyone to the scandal and kicking off the impeachment proceedings. In response to the announcement of the inquiry, Mick Mulvaney said to the press that Trump withheld aid to Ukraine because he feared corruption within Ukraine itself. Trump would later reassert this statement, denying any quid pro quo (a legal term which is basically Latin for ‘if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’).

On September 24th, Pelosi officially announced the Impeachment Inquiry by launching a private investigation led by six House of Representatives committees. They began by subpoenaing documents from Mike Pompeo, Gordon Sondland, Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani, Mark Esper, Mick Mulvaney, and Rick Perry. All of which refused to provide documents. Not sketchy at all. They then requested and or subpoenaed other people to appear for testimony. The impeachment depositions (a fancy word for official evidence gathering) were held in private before the committees. During a deposition Bill Taylor (the acting US Ambassador to Ukraine) testified that during this time he was told US military aid to Ukraine would only be returned if Zelensky publicly announced investigations into Biden and alluded to Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. Following Republican protest due the private manner of the investigation, public hearings began. In the public hearings, Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the European Union, corroborated Taylor’s statement while testifying on November 20th, and further secured the notion that both he and Rudy Giuliani were acting under direct order of the president. Multiple US officials have testified that Giuliani was leading ‘shadow foreign policy’ where he was pressuring Zelensky to investigate the business tactics of Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, and had a lot of contact with Ukranian officials on multiple political issues. Sondland also said that all of Trump’s inner circle “was in the loop” concerning the Ukraine phone call. Promptly afterwards, Pence’s chief of staff denied any conversation between Pence and Sondland regarding Ukraine. More officials would continue to testify, but it all eventually amounted to the fact that for months before the phone call the administration was trying to get rid of defiant US officials that were tied to Ukraine, weaken their involvement with Ukraine, diminish their power in government, and tarnish their reputations. The testimonies also secured that the Trump administration attempted to pin Russian involvement in the US election in Ukraine.

Now what does any of this really have to do with Impeachment, and why was this phone call such a big deal? Basically, the Democrats believe that the phone call was an example of presidential abuse of power, and the whole situation is an elaborate cover up by his administration to hide his misdeeds and corruption. All of this would be an abuse of power because the President would have used his office for personal political gain at the expense of another nation’s security as well as our own. So what if the Dems do indeed vote to impeach the President? All they need is a simple majority vote (51% of the House) and boom, Trump is impeached. However, that doesn’t mean that he’s gone. If they get their 51% he has been officially impeached but now the vote is moved to the Senate. After a trial, the Senate votes to remove, and if two thirds vote to convict, Trump is removed and Pence, the VP, takes over. Most likely however, Trump would remain in office because the Republicans control the Senate, despite the Dems controlling the house. Technically other presidents have been impeached, only Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson but neither were removed from office by the Senate and Nixon resigned before he could even be impeached.