Trump in Roanoke

Donald Trump waves to his supporters as he exits stage at the conclusion of his campaign event inside the Berglund Center in Roanoke, Sept. 24, 2016.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday, Sept. 24 that the House of Representatives is moving forward with a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump. 

“The actions of the Trump presidency revealed dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said in an official statement at the Capitol. “Therefore, today I’m announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”

Support has been building for impeachment proceedings amid recent allegations that President Trump put pressure on a foreign leader to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s family.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday, Sept. 24, that Trump ordered the withholding of military aid to Ukraine a week before his scheduled July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. On that July 25 call, the Post reported that Trump “pressed the leader of Ukraine to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden.” 

President Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations that the withholding and the call had any connection. He revealed Tuesday in a tweet that he had authorized the release of the transcript from his call with Zelensky. 

Pulaski County, Giles County, Floyd County and Roanoke County all voted in favor of Donald Trump while Montgomery County and Radford City voted in favor of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. 

“If Speaker Pelosi finds that this is the right move, then we’re going to support her,” said Rebecca Trinh, president of the Young Democrats at Virginia Tech. “If we think there is damning evidence, we have to investigate it, and I think she’s making the right move in this situation.”

While the Young Democrats support Pelosi, Trinh feels it’s important to remind the public of the impending elections and the need to stay involved. 

“Regardless of the outcome, I think we have to remember this isn’t an end-all-be-all for the democrats,” Trinh said. “Just because impeachment proceedings are starting, whatever the result is, that doesn’t mean that’s going to solve our issues. We have to remember to stay engaged and involved and make sure we turn out to vote.”

The College Republicans at Virginia Tech declined to comment on the matter.

Next steps

Even though it’s still early in the process, it can’t hurt to lay out what’s supposed to happen next. 

“Were the articles of impeachment to be put on the floor of the House, then there would be a debate on the floor of the House as to whether to vote to impeach the president on one or more of those articles,” said Karen Hult, a professor in the Department of Political Science at Virginia Tech. “If the vote is ‘yes’ to impeach on one or more articles of impeachment, it has to be approved by a majority of the members of the House.”

Hult explained that the next step, according to the Constitution, would be that the proceedings would move to the United States Senate. However, there is debate right now about whether that step is necessary.

“If one looks at the plain language of the Constitution, it simply says that may try the president on the articles of impeachment,” Hult said. “It does not use that term ‘shall.’” 

The decision of whether it goes to the Senate or not would ultimately be up to Republican Party Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who also has say over the rules of the debate on the Senate floor, such as how long it is.  

“If it goes to the Senate for a conviction trial, then representatives of the House are in essence the prosecutors,” Hult said. “They come over and they manage the debate in the Senate.”

While the House members would manage the debate, under the Constitution, Chief Justice Roberts of the Supreme Court would preside over the debate. However, Roberts is only allowed to rule on rules of evidence.  

Effect on the NRV

“We’ve already seen that members of the Virginia congressional delegation have taken positions on this,” Hult said. “The only one who has not taken a position is Ben Cline,” who is a representative for the 6th congressional district.

The representative for the 9th district that includes Montgomery County, Morgan Griffith, came out on Trump’s side, saying he is exhausted of the Democratic Party’s insistence on impeaching Trump. “Only time will tell whether there is merit to their latest charge, or if the Democrats are yet again crying wolf when there is no wolf,” Griffith said in a statement.

“This could have an impact on the state legislative elections,” Hult said. “How? I think in terms of turnout. Is this going to mobilize democrats even more than they’re already mobilized, or is it going to mobilize republicans to turn out?”

It has yet to be seen whether proceedings will move past the impeachment inquiry, but the public should learn more in the weeks and months to come

This article was updated on Sunday, Sept. 29.

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