The historical impeachment of President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump has officially been impeached by the United State House of Representatives and will now be tried by the Senate. 

Impeachment has been a very hot topic in the news recently. After a wide span of debate, President Donald Trump was impeached on two articles on the evening of Dec.18, the twenty-first anniversary of Bill Clinton’s impeachment House vote. Since the House of Representatives voted to move on with the impeachment inquiry, the next two steps of impeachment has now been completed. After the House voted 232 to 196 through partisan lines, on Oct. 31, the process moved forward with allowing the public to watch in real-time what was happening on national television. That first vote was important since Democrats received more time for questioning, and the Republicans were able to call witnesses but with the price of approval by the party in charge. 

When the secret testimony transcripts of the first set of witnesses were released, the public found out that Ambassador Yovanovitch told lawmakers that she was the target for a “smear campaign” by the president’s allies. Michael McKinley, a former top advisor for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, told congress that he resigned due to a “puzzling and baffling lack of support towards Yovanovitch” and going on with testifying “was unacceptable.” On the same day, when the House Committee tried to subpoena four more witnesses to testify, all of them refused to show due to orders by the White House. That further signaled the Obstruction of Congress article to the Democrats. The next day, the public found out that one of the key witnesses, Gordon Songland, the ambassador to the European Union, changed his testimony completely admitting to a Ukraine quid pro quo for military aid, saying that his memory was now “refreshed.” This came after other witnesses seemed to contradict his original testimony. 

From Nov. 13 through Nov. 21, the public hearings went underway with the House Democrats running the show. Over the two to three week public phase, we heard from many different witnesses which included: George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Senior State Department official; William Taylor, Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and Top U.S. Diplomat in Ukraine; Marie Yovonovitch, former Ambassador to Ukraine from 2016 until May 2019; Jennifer Willaims, National Security Aide to Vice President Mike Pence;  Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, National Security Council’s Ukraine expert; Ambassador Kurt Volker, Former Special Envoy to Ukraine; Tim Morrison, Formal Official at the National Security Council that was focused on Russia and Europe issues; Gordan Songland, Ambassador to the European Union; Laura Cooper, a Top Pentagon Official; David Hale, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs; Fiona Hill, Former Senior Director for Europe and Russia; and David Holmes, Senior Diplomat at the US Embassy.  

During those hearings, we continued to hear what we already knew about the controversy in question. What we didn’t know during the hearings was the story of one of his aides overhearing a phone conversation with Mr. Songland, that happened on July 26, where we found out that “President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden”, which is what Mr. Taylor previously testified in his closed-door testimony to the Intelligence Committee. In the second hearing, we learned that the transcript for the April 2019 phone call was released; it told us that there was a call where they are not talking about the Bidens or any other investigations. Also, while the hearing was going on President Trump tweeted about Ambassador Yovanovitch; that tweet was “Everywhere Marine Yonovovitch went turned bad”. After the tweet was read by Chairmen Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, asked her what she thought about it. Ambassador Yovonvitch responded by saying “It’s very intimidating”. Chairman Schiff responds back with “some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously”. Representative Jim Haines, later on, pointed out that that tweet was “a clear instance of witness tampering which would form an article of impeachment against Mr. Trump.” In the third hearing, as the minority was questioning Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, Chairman Schiff stopped a certain question from being answered because it was getting too close to the identity of the whistleblower. During the second part of the “circus” brought by the Democrats, the minority got to question the witnesses that they wanted to bring, which was Ambassador Volker & Tim Morrison. Republicans wanted to have Morrison testify to the public because in his previous testimony he said that “I heard nothing illegal on the call even though I was concerned that, if a leaked happened, there would be political fallout”. Through Ambassador Songland’s testimony, the public now knows that everyone including the president was in the loop with Ukraine when he said the following: “everyone was in the loop, it was no secret, again everyone was in the loop”; and that there was a “quid pro quo” through the following words: “as I testified previously with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is Yes”. On the other side, the Republicans continue to say that we have not found any significant evidence on a potential forced “quid pro quo” on Ukraine. In the last witness hearings, Mr. Holmes talked about what he overheard the president said in a lunch phone call with Ambassador Songland about “big stuff”, which confirms what the public found out in the very first hearing. 

When the first witness hearings concluded, the House Judiciary took over and did their public hearings on December 4, which they heard from four constitutional legal experts to help them figure out whether or not what the president is accused of rises to the level of impeachment. They concluded on December 9th, with the council of both the majority and minority presenting what they had found over the previous 17 weeks. This would become only the fourth time in history. The next day on December 10th, in a press conference, Representative Jerry Nadler, House Judiciary Committee Chair from New York; and Representative Adam Schiff, House Intelligence Committee Chair from California, announced that the House Judiciary will be going forward with two articles that would be voted on by the full house about a week later. Those articles were Obstruction of Congress and Abuse of Power. After the wide-span debate of fourteen hours, the House Judiciary Committee voted, on December 13th, to recommend those articles of impeachment, 23-17 (both times) by a roll call vote to go up for debate on the House floor. Nearly a week later, on December 17th, the House Committee set rules of the upcoming vote after roughly eight hours, which took most of the day to debate, on December 18th. At the end of the night on debate day, the House voted 230 to 197, through partisan lines to impeach the president with Article I: Abuse of Power, and voted 229 to 198, again through partisan lines, for Article II: Obstruction of Congress. Which made President Trump the third president in American History to be fully impeached. The significance behind this vote is even if the senate votes to acquit, the term impeachment will always be reflected with President Trump through historical analysis.  

Now that the president has officially been impeached, the next step in the process includes the House delivering the articles to the Senate, which happened on January 15, after Speaker Pelosi chose not to proceed with the next step until she knew what kind of trial the Senate would conduct. Then the Senate Trial, begins January 21, which is presided by the Chief Justice, and the senators as the jury while the House makes their case as the prosecution. Remember as the trial goes on, the Senate only needs two-thirds, about 67 votes which would be at least 20 Republicans and all of the Democrats, to convict and remove the president. Since what we have seen in the process so far of every vote becoming along party lines, the conviction will most likely not be happening. But, since 2020 is here, the ending of the impeachment will definitely have some sort of impact on the election itself, similar to what had inspired in 2000. Reinstating what was written in the previous article, as the process of impeachment enters into the final stage, remember that “Impeachment is just a political process, not a legal process,” as Pete Williams (NBC News Justice Correspondent) stated back when Speaker Nancy Pelosi first announced the Inquiry back on September 24, 2019.

~Joshua Grimes, Staff Writer~


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