by Maura Campbell ’22
On Sept. 24, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. This inquiry came as a result of allegations of a quid pro quo involving the president withholding aid from Ukraine until they agreed to investigate former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s business dealings there.
Quid pro quo, a situation in which one party offers an advantage or favor to another party in return for something else of value, is generally considered to be politically unfavorable and unethical. In particular, the Constitution of the United States says that “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”—which is generally considered to encompass the concept of quid pro quo —are impeachable offenses.
These allegations, put forth originally by an unnamed whistleblower, resulted from a phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, during which President Trump encouraged Zelensky to investigate Biden in return for dispersing U.S. aid to Ukraine. This has been largely defined as a quid pro quo in which the President withheld aid in an attempt to tarnish his opponent and therefore advance himself politically.
President Trump has denied the existence of a quid pro quo during this phone call, releasing a rough transcript of the conversation and stating that he wanted Ukraine to investigate Biden due to worries regarding corruption in Ukraine, not in an attempt tarnish his political opponent.
Despite this, Pelosi said on Sept. 24, “The actions taken to date by the President have seriously violated the Constitution,” and that House committees would begin investigating these actions.
Over the next several weeks, six committees in the House of Representatives will investigate the allegations put forth against President Trump, and the Judiciary Committee will determine whether there is adequate evidence of wrongdoing.
If the Judiciary Committee finds sufficient evidence of wrongdoing by the President, they will produce a list of articles of impeachment, about which the House of Representatives will then hold a vote on. If a majority of the House votes to impeach, the proceedings will move to the Senate, which will then hold a trial. In the end, the Senate would require a two-thirds majority vote in order to remove President Trump from office.
Since Pelosi’s announcement of the impeachment inquiry, reactions from media and citizens have been mixed and largely divided across partisan lines.
A recent poll by NBC and the Wall Street Journal found that 49 percent of Americans are in favor of impeaching and removing President Trump from office. In particular, 88 percent of Democrats support impeachment and removal from office, whereas 90 percent of Republicans oppose impeachment and removal from office.
This is a developing story, with new polls and updates being released daily. Students interested in keeping up to date with this process should be aware that the Phillips Memorial Library offers free student subscriptions to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which can be accessed through their respective websites.