Impeaching President Trump Upholds the Values of Democracy

Cooper Blatz

On December 18, 2019, the House of Representatives voted in favor of impeaching President Trump.  The impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump is the culmination of efforts to expose Trump for his wrongdoings, but the overall outcome of impeachment remains uncertain.

To understand what is at stake for the country it’s important to understand that impeachment is when the person in question is tried and if found “guilty” can be removed from their office and banned from running for future positions. Impeachment is not limited to presidents. There have been 15 federal judges, a cabinet secretary, and a U.S. Senator that have been impeached.

What warrants impeachment? Treason, bribery, maladministration, high crimes, and other misdemeanors. Trump is being accused of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Specifically, President Trump is being accused of pressuring Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to help Trump win the 2020 election. Trump is accused of pressuring Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and Hunter Biden (son of Joe Biden) in return for federal aid.  And indeed, evidence shows that the aide Ukraine had been promised was delayed around this time.

Many presidents have made deals with other countries, but that is to benefit both nations, not for personal gains. It is Trump’s duty to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, as stated in the Presidential oath, which every president since John Adams (second President of the United States) has sworn to do. This means that he has to do the best of his ability to protect the United States. If Trump really did threaten to withhold a country’s federal aide for personal gain, then he should be impeached, in order to set a precedent and secure the safety of the United States.

A presidential impeachment trial is a two-stage process. The first stage needs to be started by the House of Representatives. There is a vote to impeach, which only needs a majority to pass. If there is a 51% or more vote then it is moved to the Senate where another trial is held. After the trial the Senate votes.  If 67% of the Senate vote to convict, then the accused is removed from office, and the vice-president takes over. If when the Senate votes and it’s not a 67% vote then the president won’t be removed from office. The House of Representatives needed to have a vote of 215 to pass each article, due to multiple representatives deciding not to vote. According to the New York Times 229 out of 231 Democrats voted yes for the first article (abuse of power), and 195 out of 195 Republicans voted no. 228 Democrats voted yes for the second article (obstruction of congress), and 195 Republicans voted no.

President Andrew Johnson was impeached on February 24, 1868, for a violation of the Tenure of Office Act. Johnson ended up being impeached by the House of Representatives, but then later during a trial with the Senate, he was found not guilty with a vote of 35-19, with 36 votes needed to impeach Johnson from office. Johnson was not removed from office and remained president until the end of his term.

President Bill Clinton was taken to trial on October 8, 1998, for lying under oath and obstruction of justice. Although Bill Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives, he remained in office because the Senate failed with 50 in favor and 50 against for obstruction of justice and 45 in favor and 55 against for perjury. Since it needs to be two thirds in favor in order for someone to be impeached, Bill Clinton was not removed from office.

Impeachment is not a new concept and the president should take these hearings seriously; however, during a press conference with President Trump and the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodgan the impeachment hearings came up. Trump was asked about his “general reaction” of the impeachment hearings. He responded with “The witch-hunt? I hear it’s a joke, I haven’t watched for one minute.” He then proceeded to call the arguments made during the hearing “incorrect information” and “highly inappropriate.”

This isn’t the first time President Trump has made false claims.  According to the Torronto Star, Trump has made 5276 false claims since his inauguration on January 20, 2017. He’s lied about the 2016 election and many other subjects. The Toronto Star fact checks every listed claim on their website.

Some believe that Trump hasn’t done anything that warrants impeachment. There is evidence that in fact he did commit impeachable offenses. Impeaching Trump may worry some, but it is important to set precedents for future presidents. If the allegations against Trump are true, then it is important to show that future presidents and political leaders are not above the law.

As of November 2019, when averaging 3 different polls (PBS, Project FiveThirtyEight, ABC), 50.5% of adult Americans want President Trump to be impeached or impeached and removed from office. 43.6% don’t support impeaching Trump, and 5.8% are unsure. This is an alarming fact. When President Obama was in office, CNN had a poll in July 2014, and found that about  ⅔ ‘s of American adults didn’t want Obama impeached. This is an overwhelming difference, which shouldn’t be looked over. There has been a recent poll done by Gallup which shows that from December 2nd to December 15th, Trump’s approval (not impeachment) rating increased to 45%, up six percent since the previous poll. This implies that the United States doesn’t care about corrupt politicians. 

There needs to be a line that important political influencers cannot cross. Democratic Representative Adam Schiff says, “This is not about Ukraine. This is about our democracy. This is about our national security. This is about whether the American people have a right to expect that the president of the United States is going to act in their interests with their security in mind and not for some illicit personal or political reasons.” At the same press conference, he also said, “We should care about this. We must care about this. And if we don’t care about this, we can darn well be sure the president will be back at it doing this all over again,” before that he states that “This is the result of a president who believes that he is beyond indictment, beyond impeachment, beyond any form of accountability, and indeed, above the law.”

Trump believes he is above the law. That is what a dictator would think of himself. The president is supposed to work for the people, not use the people for financial and political gain.

Arguably, the best leaders are the ones that hold themselves accountable for mistakes made and come up with ideas to overcome any problems. According to what Schiff has said, Trump is the problem. Everyone knows that corrupt politicians exist throughout the world, but did anyone think a corrupt politician could become the President of the United States? Impeaching Trump will set a precedent that will benefit the future of America, showing that even the president isn’t above the law and can be impeached for abuse of power.

Trump has been impeached by the House of Representatives for obstruction of congress and for abuse of power. Now it is up to the Senate to decide whether to remove him from office and uphold the values of our democracy or allow the president to continue his graft.