By Joe Badalamenti
President Donald Trump, love him or hate him, has become the most dynamic figure of this decade, so much so that the primary platform of the Democratic Party has become his impeachment. Fortunately for the Democrats, an unlikely scandal involving the Ukrainian Government has given them their chance. But what really happened with this scandal? Was this a big brain move by the Democrats, or will the Democrats eagerness to impeach hinder their road to taking over the presidency in 2020?
Before I get into the background of the situation, I’d like to clarify some specifics about impeachment. According to the Constitution, impeachment is the removal of a government official from office. In order to begin impeachment, the President would have to be convicted of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” What this means in the context of the Framers is that any public official can be impeached, so long as they are convicted of a qualifying crime. For example, Congress decided to impeach President Andrew Johnson for high crimes and misdemeanors because they staunchly disagreed with his policies (this did not result in the removal of president Johnson from office). The impeachment trial itself requires several votes by Congress including a final vote requiring two-thirds of the Senate. Looking at the demographics of the current US Congress, the parties are nearly even, with a Democrat majority in the House of Representatives and a slight Republican majority in the Senate. This means that in order for President Trump to be removed from office, the Democrats will need to convince a significant number of Republicans to vote with them, as the Constitution intended. Considering President Trump’s high approval within the Republican Party, the Democrats would need to uncover a major scandal in order for this all to go through.
So what did President Trump do exactly? The specific accusation is that President Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to assist him in the 2020 presidential election by investigating Democratic front-runner Joe Biden. According to the criteria laid out in the Constitution, this is an impeachable offense. However, there are other factors we need to consider. Firstly, is there any proof that President Trump is actually guilty of the conduct he has been accused of? While it isn’t said outright, there is evidence that there was cooperation between the Trump administration and the Ukrainian government. However this alone is not illegal, as Treaty 106-16 allows for cooperation between governments in order to combat crime, which was supposedly the purpose of this conversation.
So now that we have established that President Trump can be impeached, the next question I want to answer is if President Trump should be impeached. Taking everything into consideration, I can say that it is best if President Trump is not impeached for a few reasons. Firstly while trump has committed impeachable offenses, these actions were not illegal and congress does not have an obligation to impeach a president anytime one commits such an action. In fact, previous presidents have committed similar actions of misconduct and have avoided impeachment entirely. Secondly the majority of the population is against impeachment. The problem here is that the majority of the support for impeachment comes from the left wing. While there are some right wingers who support impeachment, they are a minority as many polls show at least 80 percent approval among the GOP. Even if Trump is impeached, all that would happen is Vice President Mike Pence would become President, which doesn’t sound much like a win for the Democrats. Finally the next presidential election is almost a year away so if people really disapprove of Trump they can just vote him out of office. While Trump does have the incumbent advantage, we have had presidents such as Jimmy Carter who were voted out of office during their first term.
So, what came out of all this other than the non-impeachment? Well, on the Democrat side Joe Biden has fallen in the polls leaving Elizabeth Warren as the new front runner. However trends have been moving in this direction so there’s no guarantee that this was caused by the incident. Meanwhile, Trump has currently raised over $15 million for his 2020 campaign. The incident has improved support for his Impeachment slightly, however this effect is marginal compared to the amount of support among Trump’s favor. It’s clear that Trump knows how to rally his base for elections. However, this is not enough to guarantee a 2020 victory as moderate and uncertain voters are key to winning swing states. So the best bet to remove Trump from office before 2024 is to convince as many moderate voters as possible to vote against Trump. 2020 is over a year away, so while we can’t accurately predict the outcome, we can begin to see trends which will lead to a certain outcome. Will this outcome be on Trump’s favor? Only time will tell.