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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

SCHABLIN: Trump’s impeachment justified, removal from Oval Office not likely

The United States House of Representatives is moving forward with the impeachment process involving Donald Trump. Photo via Flickr.

Only two presidents have been impeached in United States history: Andrew Johnson in 1868 for removing cabinet members without Congressional approval and Bill Clinton in 1998 for lying under oath about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Now, it could happen again. The House of Representatives announced Sept. 24 that it would officially begin the impeachment process of President Donald Trump. The announcement came after a whistleblower filed an official complaint against the president for appearing to ask for Ukrainian interference in the upcoming 2020 election.

In the call, Trump asked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation against the frontrunner for the 2020 presidential election and former Vice President Joe Biden. The investigation would aim to find proof that during his time as vice president, Biden had a conflict of interest with Ukrainian officials who were seen as corrupt in the eyes of the United States and European Union governments.

The problem with Trump’s request is the withdrawal of millions of dollars worth of anti-tank rocket launchers that Ukraine had requested for defense against Russia. To those arguing for impeachment, this was seen as the President using his powers to essentially blackmail a foreign government into assisting in interference with a presidential election.

The House of Representatives decided this was enough evidence to begin an impeachment process. This is also not the first time Trump has been accused of seeking foreign aid in an election. In the Robert Mueller investigation, the president was accused of receiving Russian help to get elected, and while this report did not find anything criminal, it did not exonerate the president.

Despite this blatant abuse of presidential power, many Republican Congress members, including House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said they believe impeachment is too harsh of a punishment. Yet these accusations are at, if not exceeding, the levels of criminality that previous impeachment cases have had.

This violation of presidential power has similarities with the Watergate scandal in the level of election interference that it suggests, seeing as how it involves using illegal methods to try to damage the reputation of a sitting president’s election opponent.

In 1972, a group of men from president Richard Nixon’s campaign team broke into the Democratic National Convention’s headquarters to find evidence that could be used to tarnish the reputation of George McGovern, the Democrat nominee for the 1972 election, a reputation which would guarantee Nixon another presidential term.

Both Nixon and Trump were accused of using illegal methods to find information that would hurt the reputation of their opponents during a presidential election. Nixon resigned before he could be impeached, but the scandal was still enough to remove the president from office.

Nixon’s impeachment and removal were essentially guaranteed, but in the political climate today, Trump’s removal will be much harder. Since almost every member of Congress will vote along with their party, it’s like that very few Republicans will vote for impeachment and almost every Democrat will vote to impeach and remove.

Although Johnson and Clinton were impeached, neither was removed from office. Their violations were not classified as “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which is the criteria for impeachment outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

From what I’ve seen and the information that has been released so far regarding Trump’s possible impeachment, I would classify his actions as impeachable. But with a Republican majority in the Senate and a two-thirds majority needed for removal, politicians will vote with their parties, and those who decide to go against their parties will likely have a harder time getting reelected.

Unless anything extremely significant comes out of any of the impeachment inquiry, the impeachment of Trump will most likely end in an impeachment without removal.

If this prediction comes true, all it will do is confirm the hypocrisy in current politics that members of Congress vote based on their own reelection rather than the betterment of the country. If members of Congress truly cared about these events, the president’s actions would most likely result in removal, too.

If political parties were reversed and a Democratic president acted as Trump did, the parties would just do the opposite of what they are doing now. Political ideologies wouldn’t matter⁠—the only thing that would matter is the president’s removal from office.

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