Prior to President Donald Trump’s phone call with President Zelensky of Ukraine, the Democratic Party was largely divided on whether impeaching Trump was something worth pursuing. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi spoke out against opening an impeachment inquiry, due to the sheer unlikeliness of Trump being convicted by the Senate. Several members of the Democratic leadership followed suit with Pelosi’s words, believing that vying for a long-shot conviction was not worth the polarization it would bring to an already divided country. This sentiment has been seemingly thrown out the window since that particular phone call, however.
To recap the events of the phone call, which made national headlines approximately two months ago, Trump blatantly requested for Zelensky to look into dropped charges on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Trump states, “The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me.”
This phone call seems to have been the final straw for Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the leadership against impeachment. Bad press for Joe Biden’s son would almost certainly skew the 2020 Election in Trump’s favor since Biden has been the frontrunner against Trump since announcing his campaign. If Trump were to have received Zelensky’s help, he would’ve been violating his presidential oath. Enlisting the help of another country in meddling in a national election would be a direct violation of federal law.
Those in the Senate who are in support of Trump defend him by pointing out that while the phone call to the Zelensky does raise suspicion about him being the recipient of information on the Bidens, there is no proof that the transaction ever occurred. In addition, Republicans accuse the Democrats of wanting this “witch hunt” impeachment purely to damper Trump’s chances at re-election in 2020.
On the other hand, the Democrats now stand behind the idea that Trump undoubtedly desired to accumulate knowledge illegally, and believe that the phone call serves as more than enough evidence to back the charges. Trump consistently insists that he is guilty of no crimes and that his phone call with Zelensky was naught but a cordial conversation regarding the interests of both leaders. On numerous occasions, Trump has tweeted, “READ THE TRANSCRIPT!” Like many of his fellow Republicans, Trump believes the phone conversation does not convict him of anything. In response to one of his many tweets demanding people to read the transcript, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired back, “We did. That’s why we opened up the impeachment inquiry.”
On December 18th, Trump became the third president in American history to be impeached by the House of Representatives, joining Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton in the notorious club. Regardless of which side you are on, this is a big deal. We are watching history unfold right before our eyes. While a conviction in the Senate is highly unlikely, an impeachment could either hurt or help his chances at re-election in 2020. As alarming as it may seem that the sitting president has been impeached, it’s important to remember that our democracy was built to withstand this; this power check is what has allowed America to remain such a stable republic for over 200 years. By impeaching Trump, the Democrats have not only struck down a president in violation of federal law but also have the potential to significantly bolster their chances of winning the 2020 Election.