(opinions) Trump at the Berglund Center

Donald Trump speaks to an audience inside the Berglund Center in Roanoke during a campaign event where he spoke about the need to restore jobs to the coal mining industry in Southwest Virginia, among other issues, Sept. 24, 2016.

History tells us that Donald Trump will not be impeached; in fact, the president may use the impeachment probe to his advantage in the 2020 election campaign. 

In a scathing 12-page report released Thursday, Sept. 26, by an unknown “whistle-blower,” the declassified report outlines Donald Trump’s attempt to convince Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to provide incriminating information on Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. In the report, the whistle-blower describes an uncorroborated claim that “Joe Biden asked the general prosecutor of Ukraine to quash a criminal probe into an energy company in which his son was a member on the board.” There’s speculation that Trump intended to use this information to hurt Biden in the upcoming election cycle, and Trump did something similar with Hillary Clinton by making voters question her credibility to hold office regarding her private email account. This report is an unprecedented, “Nixon-like” situation. Additionally, the report reveals that Trump may have obstructed justice by attempting to hide the official transcript of the July 25 phone call between himself and Zelensky. The report acknowledges that “the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature.” It has also been speculated that Trump has used this electronic system in the past to store sensitive political content which is not related to classified national security information for which the coded system is intended. Evidence from the report also suggests that Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer, was also involved in the collusion scandal. Rudy Giuliani reportedly visited with with Andriy Yermak, one of Zelensky’s advisers, in Madrid last month to discuss the contents of the phone call.

From these detailed accusations and accounts against the president, it seems that Trump has grossly overstepped his presidential powers by fixing the upcoming election while attempting to cover it up in the process. In his defense, Trump has unsurprisingly reverted back to his disparaging language toward the “fake news” media, calling the whistle-blower a likely fraud and phony. Trump also seemed to threaten the whistle-blower at a White House press briefing, saying, “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.” Trump’s offhand remark is deeply concerning considering that he is currently facing impeachment charges.

Although the president should probably be impeached for his recent actions, history tells us that this outcome is extremely unlikely. No United States president has ever been impeached while in office, although it has come close in the past. President Nixon formally resigned over the “Watergate Scandal,” Andrew Johnson was one vote short of being voted out by the Senate, and Bill Clinton was later acquitted from impeachment charges once his case reached the Senate. It is extremely unlikely that Trump will be formally impeached, and “every president since Ronald Reagan has been threatened with impeachment by members of the House, including Trump, who faced three separate resolutions for impeachment in 2017.” 

The “whistle-blower” report, while extremely detailed and well-written, also has some red flags to consider. For example, the whistle-blower admits that “I was not a direct witness to most of the events described.” Additionally, no members of the Republican party have said they support the impeachment investigation, and the House requires a two-thirds majority to proceed with the impeachment charges. 

If we look back to 2016, Trump was also able to successfully avoid the scandal that occurred between him and President Vladamir Putin regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election. I would be shocked to see Donald Trump be formally impeached by Congress. I have a strong suspicion that when this is all said and done, Trump will be able to use these impeachment hearings to his advantage by attacking the “fake news media” and the Democratic party to appeal to skeptics. 

 

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