Opinion: President Trump Should Not Be Impeached
Grounds for Impeachment?
The constitution warrants the impeachment of a public official for, "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."1 Unfortunately, the Constitution does not define "high crimes and misdemeanors." In the case of impeaching President Trump, this is where the difficulty lies.
One thing that we can be sure of is that in order to commit a high crime or a misdemeanor, a law must be broken. If a law may have been broken, we at least have grounds for an investigation into President Trump.
On July 25, 2019, President Trump had a conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky and asked him to investigate the Bidens. For any reasonable person, this would be cause for suspicion. When we factor in the fact that $391 million dollars in aid was withheld from Ukraine prior to this phone call, the situation becomes more suspicious. Therefore, there were at least grounds for an investigation into the situation. Grounds for an investigation, however, does not constitute as grounds an impeachment inquiry.
Have Any Laws Been Broken?
In order for a public official to be impeached, the legislative branch must point to a specific law that has been broken. At this time, the Democrats have not pointed to any law that has been broken. Though aid was withheld prior to the phone call, there has not been substantial evidence given that President Trump planned to hold the money hostage. It should also be noted that it is not uncommon for the United States to withhold money from administrations that are corrupt, and Ukraine certainly has had an issue with corruption.2
The other complaint of Congress is that President Trump obstructed the impeachment process. Trump did not respond to Congressional subpoenas, and this now has become a basis for impeachment. The problem with this line of argument is that congress had no grounds for impeachment in the first place. In order to begin impeachment proceedings (including an impeachment inquiry), Congress must specifically state what law was broken by the President. Since this has not transpired, Trump is not legally obligated to respond to subpoenas that are the result of an illegitimate legal process. While Congress had grounds to launch an investigation into Trump's dealings with Ukraine, they certainly did not have the grounds to launch an impeachment inquiry.
A Politically Motivated Impeachment
At best, President Trump's actions were necessary; at worst, they were inappropriate. The question of which of the scenarios is the case has still not been answered by Congress. This is because Congress has not bothered (and has even refused) to look into allegations about Joe Biden's dealings with Ukraine.
On January 23, 2018, former Vice President Joe Biden openly bragged about manipulating Ukraine into firing a prosecutor that was going after a Ukrainian company, Bursima Holdings, that his son, Hunter Biden, sat on the board for despite Hunter Biden's lack of relevant credentials.3 Joe Biden, with the permission of then-President Obama, withheld a $1 billion dollar loan guarantee in order to pressure Ukraine into firing a prosecutor.
If what President Trump did is an impeachable offense, then both Barrack Obama and Joe Biden both deserved to be impeached before their tenure was over. In this case, the evidence for wrongdoing is overwhelming because former Vice President Joe Biden openly told the story, and we have his story on video. Yet, the Democrats have no problem with Joe Biden running for President.
Now, given the evidence above, it seems that President Trump had sufficient grounds to ask Ukraine to look into that particular situation. On the other hand, if President Trump pressured Ukraine (by withholding) to look into Joe Biden and Hunter Biden's dealings with Ukraine, this would be an impeachment offense because there are many laws against quid pro quos. However, President Trump and Ukrainian officials have both said that there was no pressure on the Ukrainian government to look into the Bidens.
Thus, given the obvious double standards of those who wish to impeach President Trump, we can rightfully conclude that this impeachment process is politically motivated. The Democrats certainly had grounds to open a standard inquiry into President Trump's dealing with President Zalensky, but opening an impeachment inquiry without a cited law being broken makes this impeachment process illegitimate. It is clear that the motivation of the Democrats is political.
Since 2016, news outlets have repeatedly stated that in order for the Democrat's base to be energized, they must impeach President Trump.4 Multiple Democrats also came out in 2016 saying they would impeach Donald Trump.5 Thus, it is no surprise that Democrats are pushing for impeachment not long before the 2020 election.
Impeachment Is Irresponsible
With an election coming up where the American people will decide whether they will keep Trump or not, is it really necessary to move forward with a politically divisive impeachment? This question is compounded with another question, "If the Senate doesn't support removing President Trump from office, what is the point of impeaching the President?" If the latter question were the only question, accountability would be a fair answer; however, elections are times where the American people judge politicians based on their actions in office, and the 2020 election will take place in less than a year from now. Thus, the notion of impeachment is beside the point. Trump will not be removed from office by the Republican-controlled Senate, and the American people have a chance to vote on removing Trump less than a year from now.
In a country that is already so divided and with it being less than a year before the 2020 election, an impeachment process that will not result in Trump's removal from office is irresponsible. Not only did the impeachment inquiry take place without sufficient legal grounds, but now the polarization of the political factions in our country is more severe than before.
Polls are showing that the impeachment process has been an overall political loss for Democrats, and there is no doubt that the Senate, who will be all too happy to investigate Joe Biden during the impeachment trial, will paint a narrative that will be harmful to the Democrats.6 Unbeknownst to Democrats, they may have handed President Trump an easy 2020 election victory.
- U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section IV
- OMB: Urkraine Aid Delay was Consistent with Law, Past Practice, https://www.rollcall.com/news/omb-ukraine-aid-delay-was-consistent-with-law-past-practice
- Joe Biden on Ukraine - Billion Dollars, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnIPw_Who7E
- Why Democrats Must Impeach the President, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/08/opinion/democrats-impeach-trump.html
- Could Trump be Impeached Shortly after He takes office, https://www.politico.eu/article/could-donald-trump-be-impeached-shortly-after-he-takes-office-us-presidential-election-2016-american-president-impeachment/
- Republicans see Impeachment Backfiring. Democrats Fear They May be Right, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-whistleblower-deciders/republicans-see-impeachment-backfiring-democrats-fear-they-may-be-right-idUSKBN1WB33V
© 2019 Jason L Petersen