The new year started off with a bang as several breaking news stories made a splash in the media. 2020 came roaring in with the impeachment trial of President Trump. Impeachment affects all Americans but it can be a tricky topic to understand. Here are a few key things to note:
First, according to the United States constitution, there are specific grounds on which a president can be impeached: “Treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
A two-step process is to be followed when Congress decides to impeach a president. First, a member of Congress must put forward a proposal to begin an impeachment inquiry. Following this, the House of Representatives must find the president guilty by a two-thirds majority. Then the process proceeds to the Senate for the trial. If found guilty by a two-thirds vote in the Senate then the president is removed from office. However, no president has ever been found guilty in the Senate and removed from office.
The Trump impeachment process began in September of 2019 when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry. The inquiry came shortly after the anonymous complaint claiming that President Trump allegedly made phone calls to the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, seeking election help.
“The actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution. [President Trump] must be held accountable- no one is above the law,” Pelosi said.
President Trump was impeached in the House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in December of 2019. The first article of impeachment, abuse of power, is the result of Trump withholding military aid from Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into Joe Biden. Biden served as vice president under Obama and is running for the 2020 Presidential election.
The second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, was due to Trump’s refusal to cooperate with the investigation into his alleged involvement with Ukraine. President Trump denied the subpoena to use testimony and documents in the impeachment investigation.
The day of the impeachment President Trump tweeted:
SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2019
After the impeachment proceeding in the House, the next step was to send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate for the trial. However, they didn’t make it there as soon as expected. Until guaranteed a fair trial in the Senate, Pelosi withheld the articles of impeachment,
“[Pelosi] apparently believes that she can tell us how to run the trial,” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said.
The articles made it to the Senate four weeks later but without the promise of a “fair trial.”
The Senate impeachment trial began on Jan. 21st and concluded on Feb. 5th. Debate rang among Senators for the entirety of the trial. However, the end result was the acquittal of President Trump on both articles of impeachment.
The acquittal is supported by some UT students, like Sadie Sharpe, a junior majoring in human resource management.
“I do agree [with the acquittal]…hopefully now he will be able to put his plans into action,” Sharpe said.
The Senate impeachment trial spent much of its time trying to decide whether or not to call upon witnesses like former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander from Tennessee was among the few Republicans struggling with the decision to support the Democrats’ proposal for witnesses. Alexander ultimately decided to vote against allowing witnesses into the trial.
“It was gradual,” Alexander said. “I made the decision gradually during the week. I did it the way I think a juror or a judge is supposed to make it.”
The vote for acquittal in the Senate did result in surprise when Republican Sen. Mitt Romney voted in favor of conviction for abuse of power. Mitt Romney was the only Republican to vote in favor of conviction.
“Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine,” Romney said.
The historic impeachment trial of President Trump has now come to a close. Trump is the third president to face impeachment. While Democrats and Republicans continue to argue about the right course of action, the ultimate decision comes down to the voters. America will vote for its next president on November 3 of this year.
Edited by Grace Goodacre and Donna Mitchell
Featured photo courtesy of Creative Commons