On the evening of Dec. 18, President Donald Trump was impeached by the Democratic-controlled House on the grounds of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. All 230 Democrats voted yea, with the exception of presidential candidate and congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard who voted present, while all 197 House Republicans voted nay. The Articles of Impeachment vote is the result of months of elongated interviews and hearings on Capitol Hill after a whistleblower complaint was filed alleging that President Trump threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine unless the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky fulfilled a favor for him.
The complaint detailed a phone call between President Trump and Zelensky discussing military aid. The “damning” and potentially criminal behavior was highlighted in the complaint when details arose that Trump allegedly threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine if former vice-president and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter who sat on an energy company’s board (Burisma), where he allegedly was earning “at least” $50,000 a month salary, according to Bloomberg, despite having no knowledge of the industry.
What is impeachment?
Impeachment is the process in which the House of Representatives makes the determination if the president should be prosecuted by the Senate. Although it is quite vague in the Constitution, impeachment is invoked when there is evidence or credible speculation that the president has committed “high crimes or misdemeanors.”
Understandably, the term “high crimes and misdemeanors” can be extremely difficult to interpret. According to Merriam-Webster, a misdemeanor is “a crime less serious than a felony.” The founding founders of the Constitution left the term “high crimes” intentionally vague due to their awareness of the shifts America as a nation would make.
Does impeachment mean that Trump is out of office?
Not at all. In fact, impeachment has little to no factor in determining the President’s verdict or sentence. Once the Articles are drafted, a trial is held in the Senate.
For Democrats, the impeachment saga has been a road of wins, but with a Republican Senate, the war is not over at all.
Once the Articles are passed, the trial goes to the Senate. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell who controls the GOP-led Senate has characterized the articles of impeachment as “so darn week,” adding that he was “taking my cues” from the White House as he puts together the Senate trial. With 53 Republican senators and 47 Democratic senators, the Republicans have a strong enough gain to put the Senate trial to rest.
As of the close of business in Washington before the holiday break, House speaker Nancy Pelosi had not yet sent the articles of impeachment over to the Senate. Until that happens, the Senate cannot schedule a trial. It remains unclear when that transfer will occur.
Why the Democrats should worry about the Senate trial.
Impeachment might not only hurt the Democratic party, but also its 2020 contenders. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar are all U.S. Senators. This is problematic for all of their campaigns. During an impeachment, Senators, who serve as the jury, must attend the sessions for six days a week during the duration of the trial.
It is unclear how long a Senate trial would take, but in an almost identical time frame, former president Bill Clinton’s impeachment went from December 19, 1998, to his acquittal in the Senate on February 12, 1999.
This has the potential to impact all four candidate’s ability to rile up support and eventually, votes for the Democratic primary, which kicks off in Iowa in early February 2020. Although this could be bad news for their campaigns, candidates not serving in the Senate like Pete Buttigieg or Andrew Yang might have a leg up.
So who are the winners and losers?
There’s no telling where the future lies for both President Trump and Senate Republicans and Democrats. The Democrats have successfully impeached the President in the House, but it is unlikely the Senate controlled GOP will do anything more than acquit Trump.
In conclusion, there’s only one loser and it’s the American people. Their lives are constantly bombarded and interrupted by the seemingly ineffective and polarizing city of bureaucrats, politicians, and the media known as Washington D.C.