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Why Donald Trump Was Impeached – The Basics

What is Impeachment?

Impeachment is a policy set in the Constitution to create a system of checks-and-balances that prevents either the Executive or Judicial branches of the government from abusing their power. The policy is that if Congress determines that either the President, Vice President or other government official has violated their oath of office, Congress is authorized to begin an impeachment investigation.

While many believe impeachment is limited to the president, it is more than likely that a judge will be impeached for abuse of their judicial authority.

This is where things get confusing because, although our Founding Fathers wanted impeachment as a tool to prevent abuse of power, they used the vague term “high crimes and misdemeanors” to warrant impeachment.

So, instead of having a list of specific crimes that would result in impeachment, it was left up to the individuals in Congress to decide what would be an impeachable offense.

Yeah, this is where you want to be vague; when deciding the fate of the leader of the free world (Insert sarcasm).

When a president is impeached, first there must be articles, or charges, decided upon by the House of Representatives. If they determine that charges are warranted, they adopt these articles and send them on to the Senate.

While it is called a trial, what the Senate does is essentially argue back and forth using Impeachment Managers to state the cases of each side while each member of the Senate is required to “sit silently under penalty of arrest” as the arguments are presented.

So, what could pass for a Senate trial is an annual pretty much re-enacted at Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws; the crazy uncle rants on while everyone else sits in awkward silence.

When adopting the rules for impeachment, the Founding Fathers were more concerned with a foreign power using its influence to somehow have a government official do their bidding.

What Donald Trump did was the opposite. Instead, he attempted to coerce a foreign power to do HIS bidding by asking the Ukrainian President to “do us a favor, though”.

I don’t know much Latin, but that sounds like a quid pro quo to me.

Timeline of Events (The REALLY Boring Stuff)

For more details on this timeline, click here.

July 10th: Ukrainian officials arrive in Washington to meet with US officials to discuss why nearly $400 million in military aid is being withheld. During these meetings, they are told that the aid would be released when their president publicly announces an investigation into the Bidens.

July 25th: The infamous phone call where Trump asks the Ukrainian president to “do us a favor”, indicating he would trade the withheld funds in exchange for “dirt on Joe Biden”

August 12th: A whistleblower files a complaint alleging some sort of irregularities with the July 25th phone call.

September 9th: Adam Schiff (D-CA) is notified of the whistleblower complaint

September 24: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announces that the House will start impeachment hearings based upon the July 25th phone call and the whistleblower complaint.

September 25th: Trump releases a transcript of the July 25th phone call. Despite it clearly stating that it is not an official record of the call, Trump repeatedly claims it was a “perfect call” and that he “did nothin* wrong”.

October 8th: The White House announces it will not cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, will defy subpoenas and not allow anyone from the White House to testify.

December 18th: After a two month investigation, the House adopts two articles of impeachment.

January 16th: The Senate begins its “trial” based upon the articles adopted by the House.

What Are the Articles of Impeachment, in a Nutshell?

Article One: Abuse of Power

– Trump is alleged to have abused the power of his office by attempting to coerce a foreign power to gather dirt on a potential political opponent, Joe Biden, to gain an advantage in the 2020 election.

Article Two: Obstruction of Congress

– Trump is alleged to have obstructed Congress by refusing to allow witnesses or provide requested documentation for the on-going impeachment hearings.

The Facts

Now that I’ve bored you with the mundane details, here are the facts: The impeachment process is nothing more than a partisan pissing contest. While Democrats have facts and limited evidence on their side; the evidence being limited by lack of cooperation by Trump, Republicans are being contortionists, denying the facts and arguing process.

A twisted argument from Republicans is that Democrats didn’t present enough evidence or provide first hand witnesses to support their articles.  Yeah…they kinda forgot the part where the reasons for this are also the basis for the second impeachment article.

So, basically, Republicans are saying, you didn’t have the evidence because we aren’t going to let you have it in an adult version of “nanny nanny boo boo”.

In debating the first article, Republicans admitted that what Trump did was wrong, but didn’t rise to the level of removing him from office. Instead, they argued that the voters should decide.

The Future

Now that Democrats have screwed up a perfect case of impeaching the president and Republicans have refused to hold him accountable, there has been a precedent established that the system of checks and balances that Congress once held over the Executive branch is null and void. This means that this and any future president is free to abuse their office.

The future is one that promises further anarchy and chaos.

CJ Waldron is an adjunct professor at Horry Georgetown Technical College and a contributing Writer for the Horry County Democratic Party where he covers a variety of Democratic issues, news, and commentary. Opinions and viewpoints expressed in his articles are solely his own.
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