By Christian Yosef
Elm Staff Writer
In December 2019, President Donald Trump became the third president to be impeached by the House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Just two months later, the United States Senate acquitted President Trump on those charges, which surprised no one.
For those unfamiliar with the impeachment trial, President Trump is charged with abuse of power due to withholding military aid and an invitation to the White House to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in hopes of forcing Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, President Trump’s potential political rival in the upcoming presidential election. BBC also details the reason why President Trump got charged with obstruction of Congress, as Democrats argued the White House refused to allow staff members to testify in the first impeachment hearings.
The impeachment of President Trump was worldwide news, as I saw numerous Turkish news networks discuss this topic while I was studying abroad in Turkey. I knew the Senate would not convict and remove President Trump from office, but I did have some hope on Republican senators recognizing the importance of our democracy by voting to convict President Trump of the violations he had committed.
Sadly, that hope was quickly gone when I started hearing the Republican party saying what President Trump did was fine. The facts of this case are very simple, as the first article of impeachment states that President Trump used his powers to get a foreign government, Ukraine, to interfere with the 2020 United States Presidential election.
Rough transcripts released by the White House show President Trump’s intentions.
“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it it sounds horrible to me,” he said, as reported by NPR.
Readers can clearly see how President Trump hoped to gain assistance from President Zelensky and the Ukrainian government for his reelection campaign by coercing them to investigate Biden and his son.
Since Republicans cannot argue that President Trump is innocent in this situation, they instead shifted their argument, stating that the actions committed by the president were completely justifiable.
Mick Mulvaney, the White House Chief of Staff, defended President Trump, saying, “I have news for everybody, get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy” to The New York Times.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also shared similar opinions to Fox News, saying, “This president did nothing wrong in the conversations or others and there is no reason for impeachment.”
Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader who was integral in keeping President Trump in office, did not see the President’s actions as reasons for impeachment, as he instead saw his role as protecting the legacy of President Trump.
“Everything I do during this; I’m coordinating with the White House counsel. There will be no difference between the President’s position and our position as to how to handle this,” McConnell said.
The Senate acquitting President Trump in February made me think about the future of politics in the United States. The Senate could have used their impeachment power to convict President Trump of the crimes he had committed, but instead they gave him a pass and told future presidents that the presidency can be used as a way to gain political advantages.
During my time abroad in Turkey, I noticed the importance of democracy, as Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been labeled as an authoritarian leader that constantly changes the constitution in order to achieve more political power. President Erdoğan’s actions resulted in a 2016 coup attempt that led to the deaths of 290 people, as reported by CNN.
Even though the American government has a system of checks and balances, I fear that the United States is going down a road where future presidents use their platform for personal gain, not as a job of representing the interests of the American people.