A Quick Summary of the Impeachment Inquiry

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been too caught up in your own schoolwork to read every article detailing Donald Trump’s impeachment. Luckily, I’ve done my own research to compact all the details into this concise article.

What happened?

In late August, a whistleblower (who has yet to be named) claimed that Trump pressured Zelensky, the current president of Ukraine, to launch a political investigation into the 2016 election and Joe Biden, Trump’s potential 2020 opponent.

Trump had sought two outcomes during this phone call:

  1. To prove Ukraine attempted to make US voters favor Hillary Clinton. This concept stemmed from Ukraine politicians publicly supporting Clinton over Trump during the 2016 elections. However, it doesn’t negate Trump’s own secret campaign involving Russian operatives to sway voters to support Trump over Clinton.
  2. To get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Hunter had worked on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma, which has led people to speculate that Trump believes Hunter was involved in the promotion of Clinton during 2016.

What could Ukraine have gained?

Ukraine is still at war with Russia so, in an attempt to fight back, they requested additional funding from the U.S. Trump seemed quick to approve this funding to get the upper hand, making it seem like Ukraine owed him a favor. In fact, Trump had already suspended $400 million in U.S. military aid before he had called Ukraine’s president and asked him for a favor.

It seems Ukraine had stood to garner massive benefits through military defense and monetary funding. Thus, Trump’s requested “favor” may not have appeared to be so large to Ukraine, since the U.S. was already doing so much.

Is what he did illegal?

This is complicated. It is prohibited to take any value from foreign nationals, according to Title 52. However, Trump’s actions are not technically illegal, at least right now, since the value he’s attempting to garner isn’t really tangible. The Justice Department has not yet pursued the case because no financial value seemed to have been taken.

Additionally, impeachable offenses don’t have to be illegal. Impeachment allows for lawmakers to get rid of presidents if they are abusing their power.

So we’re trying to impeach him. What is Trump’s defense?

Trump and his administration’s argument is that the event never happened, effectively denying the phone call entirely and subsequently denying asking for a favor. They’re claiming the whistleblower was a Democrat fighting for political gain.

Unfortunately for Trump, this argument directly contrasts White House aids’ testimonies that they oversaw the phone call to Ukraine. This argument has also fallen short since, although the funds are currently frozen, Ukraine did plan to receive the $400 million in military aid from the U.S., seemingly substantiating the whistleblower’s claim. 

Where the Trump administration has gained some traction is the statement that liberals altogether have seemingly been fighting to impeach Trump since the moment he entered office. This doesn’t look good for Democrats, who have been quite hush-hush about the whistleblower’s identity since August.

How are the impeachment hearings going?

You can find a full list of testimonies here, but I’ll give you the quick and dirty:

Last week, two career diplomats expressed their concern about the impact of Trump’s actions on national security — an argument that even Republicans couldn’t say was off-base. Marie Yovanovitch, former Ukraine ambassador, also painted Trump in a bad light. She testified to being a smear campaign subject by Trump’s lawyer. To make matters worse, she was quickly recalled from her post as ambassador after this campaign, making Trump’s involvement seemingly harsher.

So far, Trump is not doing well, and his other scandals seem to be coming to light, including this Ukraine campaign scandal alongside his original involvement with Russians during the 2016 election.

In any case, Trump’s actions were definitely unprofessional and inappropriate. Whether or not they were impeachable offenses, well, we’ll leave that up to the Judiciary Committee.