Trumping the impeachment process

Mahika Arya, Copy Editor

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Setting the precedent for a long, complicated process, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry on President Donald Trump on Sept. 24.

Impeachment, as defined by Legal Dictionary, is “A process that is used to charge, try, and remove public officials for misconduct while in office.” Only inquired four times in American presidential history, this measure is very drastic.

The current inquiry was spurred on by an anonymous complaint about a suspicious call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. The whistleblower, a person who reports against illegal activities or violations of public trust of their employers, has the right to not have their name released. 

“An employer cannot take an adverse action against employees … for engaging in activities protected by OSHA’s whistleblower laws,” the U.S. Department of Labor states.

The whistleblower suggested that President Trump engaged in quid pro quo with Ukraine, which is the “use of political office for personal benefit,” as defined by Legal Dictionary. 

It’s important to note that during the majority of these allegations, the whistleblower wasn’t physically present, and rather corroborated evidence accumulated from half a dozen unnamed whitehouse staff members.

These are some of the major turning points in the impeachment inquiry so far:

July 25, 2019:

Trump and Zelensky had an open phone call in the Oval Office, where he asked Zelensky to look into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, and their economic relationships in Ukraine. 

Trump additionally suggested that the 2016 election interference originated in Ukraine, not Russia, and asked Zelensky to turn over the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) server, which are actually non-existent. 

It’s unclear why Trump would connect DNC servers with Ukraine, but this was perpetuated by Fox News on July 20, five days prior.

Trump told Zelensky to meet with his personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, and Attorney General William Barr. He also praised the Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, who has publicly voiced speculation about the Bidens in Ukraine. 

No other matters were discussed during this call. 

The whistleblower said in their report that this call was wiped from all official records, potentially including handwritten transcripts and notes from onlookers. The audio word-for-word transcript was transferred to a separate server reserved only for the most delicate information related to national security. 

Reportedly, this hiding of information has been a recurring process in this administration, and was voiced due to a potential abuse of the system.

Aug. 12, 2019:

The whistleblower officially filed their complaint. It was reported by the New York Times. 

Sept. 24, 2019:

Pelosi officially announced an impeachment inquiry on Trump, making him the fourth president in U.S. history to face this questioning. 

It was spurred on by the Ukrainian call that was aforementioned. Pelosi said that asking foreign powers to interfere in American election is a violation of law which undermines national security and intelligence. 

Three-fourths of the house was in favor of impeachment. 

Oct. 3, 2019:

The House Intelligence Committee released the official transcript after not cooperating with the investigation before this. After multiple pushes from Congress, they finally cooperated.

Additionally, the then-US Special Envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, released text messages between U.S. diplomats and a senior Ukrainian aide during a nine hour closed testimony in front of Congress. 

They showed just how closely Giuliani was involved in all the dealings. Seeing as these messages set up the July 25 call, it added fire to the ongoing investigation.

Oct. 6, 2019:

National Security Lawyer Mark Zaid revealed that he was representing a second whistleblower, an intelligence official with direct, firsthand information about the allegations. 

They were questioned by the inspector general, adding more credibility to the initial complaints. The New York Times had reported about a potential second whistleblower, but Zaid said he’s not sure if the person he’s representing is the same person the NYT was referring to.

Oct. 18, 2019:

Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney admitted in a conference to Trump using quid pro quo, something the Trump administration had vehemently denied. However, he said that the intentions weren’t corrupt and were totally justified.

He said that they did deny money to Ukraine to further an investigation, but that the money had “nothing to do with Biden.”. He also said that “there’s going to be political influence in foreign policy.”