When is Enough Enough?
After all of Trump’s scandals—Russian collusion, hush money payments, misuse of taxpayer dollars, and sexual assault allegations—one phone call may be the one that leads to impeachment.
After all of Trump’s scandals—Russian collusion, hush money payments, misuse of taxpayer dollars, and sexual assault allegations—one phone call may be the one that leads to impeachment. President Trump’s July 25 call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky concerned a U.S. intelligence advisor so much that he raised a formal complaint with his superior, now known as the Whistle-Blower complaint. The advisor stated that President Trump used his status as the president of the United States to pressure President Zelensky to look into former Vice President Biden’s dealings with Ukraine. In other words, if the Whistle-Blower complaint is to be believed, the president of the United States asked the head of a foreign government for help with a political opponent, which is an extreme misuse of power and a threat to the integrity of U.S. elections.
The timing of the call was key: It came just days after Trump decided to withhold military aid to Ukraine. Ukraine heavily relies on U.S. aid to defend itself against Russia, and as a result, by withholding aid and asking Zelensky to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, Trump effectively threatened Ukraine. Although the threat was never officially verbalized, Trump made his request eight times during the call and mentioned several times that “The United States has been very very good to Ukraine.” Trump’s language reveals an underlying threat: Dig up dirt on Joe Biden, or the United States will stop military aid to Ukraine. Trump used the power of his office for personal political gain and utterly abused the power given to him by the American people which gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a reason to begin impeachment proceedings. Biden remains one of the frontrunners in the large group of democratic candidates itching to take on Trump. Many believe that he is the most likely candidate to win against Trump. If Trump were able to dig up dirt to use against Biden during the presidential election, it would undoubtedly increase his chances of reelection. Yet the president of the United States should never use his power and influence to pressure others, especially foreign leaders, to find information about political opponents for him. If the president seeks information from foreign leaders, it should fall within national interests and be related to international relations. Yes, leaders threaten, bargain, and negotiate all the time, but the distinction is that leaders do so in the country’s interest. Using the power of a role given to him by the people, Trump is using U.S. resources to increase his own personal chances for reelection, completely abusing the power given to him by the American people.
The incident is doubly problematic because it invites another foreign country to meddle in the U.S. election. Trump came under fire last year because of allegations of Russian collusion. In 2016, Russian interference with the election helped Trump win the presidency. Just days ago, it came out that Trump told two top Russian officials in 2017 that he was “unconcerned” about Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election, since the United States “did the same in other countries.” It is alarming that the president of the United States is not concerned about past Russian interference in American elections. Not only is he undisturbed by past interference, but President Trump also seems to welcome future foreign interference. By demanding that President Zelensky find information that could affect the outcome of the 2020 election, Trump explicitly undermined the integrity of U.S. elections. Trump is not only tolerating foreign interference in the elections: He’s inviting it. This is not only a scandal maring his own presidency, but if allowed to continue, Trump sets a precedent that jeopardizes the state of all future democratic processes.
Through one phone call, we learned that President Trump has abused his power and prioritized his personal interests over ones of national importance. Not only is it completely unacceptable for the president to practically threaten foreign leaders for personal gain, but it is alarming that he has no qualms about allowing other countries to interfere with presidential elections. He used his position to ask that President Zelensky investigate a political opponent. He invited a foreign country to interfere with American elections. He politicized U.S. relations with Ukraine, a foreign ally. Whether he will be impeached and removed from office is still up for debate—there will be an extensive investigation, followed by a House vote on articles of impeachment. Should 51 percent of the House support impeachment, a trial will be held in the Senate, where 67 votes will be required to impeach Trump. The Senate is currently controlled by the Republicans, making removal from office is highly unlikely. When asking whether he should be impeached and removed, however, the answer is clear: Yes.