In late September, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. On Oct. 31, the House voted 232 to 196 in approval of going forward with the impeachment inquiry. The original whistleblower complaint leading to the inquiry, which was filed over a month before Congress reviewed it in late September, claimed that Trump had been involved in a controversial call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky. A transcript of the phone call that took place on July 25 was officially released by the White House a day after the inquiry announcement, detailing Trump and Volodymyr’s exchange, which included Trump asking Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate and rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Though the inquiry was announced over a month ago, the impeachment inquiry has been ongoing. Having such importance, impeachment is a lengthy process with a timeline that is undeterminable.
“The process starts with the House of Representatives; a simple majority can impeach the president. The House will impeach [with] a formal accusation of wrongdoing, and the Senate will then try the impeachment. In order to convict, they need a three-fourths majority in the Senate,” social studies teacher Matt Miles said. “The Constitution says impeachment applies to bribery, treason, high crimes and misdemeanors; essentially anything illegal can fall into that category.”
The July call came after Trump issued instructions to withhold aid to Ukraine, which is currently experiencing mass devastation as a result of conflicts with Russia. In the released transcript of the phone call, Trump explicitly reminded Zelensky of the significant aid the U.S. provides the country. Not only was the investigation on the Bidens’ involvement with a corrupt Ukranian energy company proposed by the president of the U.S., but there are also several other notable figures connected to the matter, such as Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Guiliani who is now being federally investigated.
Many have considered Trump asking a foreign leader to investigate the Bidens an abuse of his executive power, citing foreign interference in national affairs.
“It’s a direct abuse of the office of the presidency for a personal gain; he was personally involved, and then he tried to hide that involvement,” senior TJ Maher said. “The White House tried to cover it; the records were hidden in a special folder for special classified information for no justifiable reason, which is definitely somewhat suspicious.”
Several others, however, view the whole impeachment probe as indefensible and unsupportable.
“I think it’s all a bunch of confusion and I think the allegations are all convoluted. If he has done something bad, we don’t really know what it is yet, and all the information we have available to us is not exactly enough to make a solid conclusion,” senior David Westrate said. “So from my standpoint, I say we don’t have enough evidence to really say that he committed anything.”
Whether people are in support of or angered by the president’s actions, the opinion of impeachment being the right course varies.
“This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think that with the 2020 election coming up, an impeachment trial could take so long it could stretch into that election, and I think that there’s no real point in doing it right now,” senior Noemi Pimentel said.
Criticism is not only arising from the timing of and reasoning behind the inquiry, but also from the manner in which it affects the way the U.S. is seen by foreign nations.
“It probably diminishes our credibility, in that countries are less likely to believe that we’re acting in good faith if they believe that the actions we take aren’t motivated out of concern for the international community but out of self-interest of the administration,” Maher said. “But then, America is so influential economically, diplomatically and militarily that they’ll probably be forced to maintain alliances anyways, and we won’t see any actual significant change in foreign policy.”
Several important figures allegedly involved have already been subpoenaed, including William Taylor, an American diplomat in Ukraine, and more are scheduled to testify as the inquiry continues. Though the outcome of this impeachment inquiry is much anticipated by the public, it may be awhile before any significant steps are taken.