POLITICAL PAPIST COLUMN
If you’ve looked at the news at all recently, you’ve probably seen something about the attempted impeachment of President Trump by some members of the Democratic party. When I first started researching, my main query was simply “why?” I donned my field clothes (a sweater and socks), grabbed my weapon of choice (hot chocolate) and set out to discover what the tea appears to be. Here’s the information I found.
Remember last election, when not-yet-president Trump was accused of colluding with Russia and somehow rigging the election? Remember how the Mueller Report found him and his campaign party innocent of collusion or coordination?
Well, this 2019 impeachment business appeared, at first, to be a remix. This time, Democrats are accusing Trump of conspiring with the Ukraine to, once again, interfere with elections. Upon further examination, however, it seems to be a two-layer scandal that grows increasingly difficult to follow.
First, in order to understand the second layer, we have to understand the background scandal — President Trump has accused Joe Biden and his son Hunter of involvement in international corruption.
Hunter Biden was appointed a position on a Ukrainian energy company’s board, only a month after Joe Biden was named the “point person” for Ukraine in the Obama era. Hunter came out of the deal with significantly more money.
The company itself is suspected of money laundering and other crimes. Allegedly, Joe Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to remove a prosecutor who would have properly investigated the company and discovered Hunter’s possible corruption.
Significantly, according to former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, the Obama administration grilled her about the Biden dealings in Ukraine and then decided to do nothing.
This casts further doubt on the credibility of impeachment; there may be more grounds for Trump’s initial claim of corruption after all. Some have pointed out that the Democrats only care about corruption if it involves Trump.
Beyond this, news regarding the Biden family has not unfolded further. Nevertheless, this is the foundation of the impeachment scandal that continues to demand attention in daily news.
Now, the second layer of scandal is the impeachment accusations themselves: Democrats claim that Trump bribed the Ukrainian president-elect Zelenskyy into investigating Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and the suspicious monetary dealings that Hunter had in Ukraine.
They claim that the bribe occurred when Trump called Zelenskyy asking for “a favor for a favor” type of deal — you investigate Biden; I give you military aid. Trump confirmed that military aid was withheld until after his phone call with Zelenskyy.
The Democrats started to push back, saying this is bribery and collusion with Ukraine to help Trump’s 2020 campaign by defaming the Bidens and that it is wrong of Trump to ask a foreign nation to investigate a U.S. citizen and political competitor — hence, impeachment inquiry.
However, it seems that some Democrats are changing their stance somewhat. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, declared that there is no need for actual proof of a bribe, implying that there may not have been a bribe at all. The mere fact that President Trump involved a foreign government in — supposedly — an American political issue is enough for her.
Despite this, Pelosi conveniently declined to comment on whether the accusation was actually worth impeachment; naturally, she would. If President Trump is found innocent of an actual bribe, the impeachment inquiry loses a leg on which to stand.
Moreover, it is unclear if collusion is a crime punishable by impeachment. The Constitution states that the basis for impeachment is “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” If there is no real evidence of bribery, it is not certain if collusion would be classified under “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Yet another layer in Trump’s side of the scandal involved Yovanovitch, who testified to being victimized by a smear campaign that made her lose her position. The smear campaign appears to be headed by Trump’s attorney, but it is unclear if Trump removed her for poor ambassadorship or for some nefarious purpose. Nevertheless, this does not seem to be an impeachable offense.
Her claim that her removal opened illicit backdoor communications between Trump and the Ukraine does not appear to display much grounding. Her testimony offers pathos but not much logos.
Yovanovitch’s statements are still under scrutiny as the impeachment process continues.
Not much is certain or proven in this issue, and it’s easy to jump on the conspiracy theories cropping up on both sides. This particular issue appears to be unfolding something like a pungent onion — more layers exist than you might expect. Either way, I encourage my classmates to use sources that seek to report the facts, rather than bias, and watch this latest political scandal with clear heads and discerning eyes.