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Democrats End Months Of Caution, Announce Formal Impeachment Inquiry Of President Trump

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has officially announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The announcement comes after a whistleblower filed a complaint about Trump asking the Ukranian government to investigate presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son. Hunter Biden joined the board of Ukraine’s largest private gas company Burisma. The Obama administration supported an investigation into Hunter to confirm no conflicting interest with the vice president’s official business in the country. Now, Trump asked the Ukranian government to launch an investigation into the businesses dealings and it has been alleged that Trump threatened to withhold funds from Ukraine if they did not. Trump has denied the allegations but it was enough for Speaker Pelosi to announce an official investigation. Here’s what we know so far.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry for Trump today.

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The startling news comes in the wake of his admission that Trump spoke to the president of Ukraine to get information on Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son and their dealings with Ukraine. President Trump also admitted to withholding military funds before the call was made.

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable facts of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Rep. Pelosi told the press, according to The New York Times.

While some Democrats and Trump opposers have been calling for Trump’s impeachment for quite some time, Democratic presidential candidates have been more vocal about it in the past couple of months. It seemed like Rep. Pelosi was waiting for the right time to move forward.

Rep. Pelosi’s announcement today is a departure from the cautious tone the leading Democrat has publicly held.

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In March, Rep. Pelosi told The Washington Post the wasn’t “for impeachment. Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it. No. I don’t think he is. I mean, ethically unfit. Intellectually unfit. Curiosity wise unfit. No, I don’t think he’s fit to be president of the United States.” She then scolded herself for “coming across too negatively.”

All along, the House Judiciary Committee has collected articles of impeachment on President Trump. The only way to impeach a president is to have the proper articles of impeachment — which is the evidence that shows the president has engaged in wrongdoings that go above executive privilege. The steps now would be to collect the articles of impeachment and bring them to a vote before the House of Representatives. A committee can be set up to vet the articles, however, that is not necessary. If the House votes in a majority on one article, that is essentially an indictment that the president has committed an impeachable offense. 

The Trump Administration is, so far, playing it cool by saying this latest call for impeachment is “nothing new.”

Credit: @realDonaldTrump / Twitter

“The Democrats continue to weaponize politics when they should be working on behalf of their constituents, which is nothing new,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, according to CNN. “President Trump is working hard on behalf of our country here in NYC while they continue to scream the word impeachment. Nothing new here.” 

The complaint filed by the whistleblower about Trump’s conversation with Ukraine’s president is a very important revelation in these proceedings.

Credit: @Castro4Congress / Twitter

Initially, when news first broke about a whistleblower having first-hand knowledge that President Trump spoke to Ukraine about wanting knowledge against Biden for the purpose of his presidential election, it wasn’t a big deal. 

We’ve heard a myriad of things against Trump, but without proof, it doesn’t lead to much. So, when the whistleblower said there was a call, and then Trump admitted to it, that changed everything. Trump tweets scandalous things all the time. He says outrages things all the time, but saying and doing is two different things. Having proof is also important. Now that the public knows there’s a recording, and that Trump admitted to the call, those on Capitol Hill have demanded the transcript of the call and Trump is apparently going to release it soon. 

If there’s proof that Trump asked a foreign government to interfere in the next presidential election, he will be impeached. That would be the best-case scenario. There’s still an impeachment process, and Republicans hold the key because they’re the majority in the Senate.

While the transcripts could be important in these proceedings, what should be released sooner is the formal complaint by the whistleblower. There is skepticism that the Trump administration would release an undoctored version of the transcript. Releasing the whistleblower’s full complaint would offer a more honest and transparent account of the call.

So now what? Now we wait. The first hurdle is getting 235 Democrats in the House to support the inquiry. That is likely to happen. 

Credit: @brianstelter / Twitter

After that, here’s how the process will move along, according to the New York Times

“When the full House votes on articles of impeachment, if at least one gets a majority vote, the president is impeached — which is essentially the equivalent of being indicted.”

“Next, the proceedings move to the Senate, which is to hold a trial overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.”

“A team of lawmakers from the House, known as managers, play the role of prosecutors. The president has defense lawyers, and the Senate serves as the jury.”

“If at least two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed, and the vice president takes over as president.”

What many political pundits and critics are concerned of is the willingness of the Senate to move forward if an article for impeachment is approved by the House. While the Constitution states that after the House passes an article that the Senate will hold a trial to finalize the impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stonewalled any legislation passed by the House. Notably, Sen. McConnell blocked President Obama from filling a Supreme Court vacancy and he would be able to block an impeachment, which many expect him to do. Only time will tell if the Senate will follow through with their obligation to uphold the constitution and protect our democracy.

READ: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Calls For Donald Trump’s Impeachment After Mueller’s First Public Remarks

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