At one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, some lawmakers are calling for impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump. Hearings and testimony begin this week as Democrats push for impeachment.
In July, an anonymous whistleblower, or informer, claimed that President Trump had inappropriate communications with a foreign official. The accuser says the President asked newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (see “TV Star Ukraine Prez”) to investigate Joe Biden and his son. Mr. Biden is a potential challenger to Mr. Trump in the 2020 presidential race. Hunter Biden was paid to be on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while Mr. Biden was Vice President. The whistleblower’s accusations were quickly used by many of the President’s opponents to call for his impeachment.
Impeachment is a statement of charges against a government official. Impeachment charges are very serious. If both houses of Congress vote to impeach the President, he could be removed from office. Democrats solidly control the House of Representatives. But Republicans hold sway in the Senate, and the party of the President seems unlikely to go along with impeachment. The President’s opponents may not expect to succeed in removing the President. But they may reason that raising the inquiry will tarnish his image and reduce his chances for reelection. Yesterday, Democrats subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani is the President’s personal lawyer. He likely has knowledge of President Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he will have “no choice” but to consider articles of impeachment if the House approves them.
Democratic leaders have requested “text messages, phone records, and other communications” that could be evidence against the President. They have also instructed committees to move quickly—even though lawmakers left town last Friday for a two-week recess.
Despite the break, several committees will begin testimony meetings this week. Members of one committee have already been told to be prepared to return to Washington during the break.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats need to “strike while the iron is hot” on impeachment. Democrat representative Jim Himes says a plan is “being formed very rapidly.”
A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows 47% of registered voters say Trump should be impeached and removed from office. But 47% say he should not. The differences in people’s position depended almost entirely on their political party. A mere 5% of Republicans favor impeachment and a whopping 90% of Democrats say “impeach him!”
Trump would join a rare group if the House moves toward impeachment. Only two presidents have been impeached by the House: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both were acquitted in the Senate. President Richard Nixon was implicated in the Watergate scandal. But he was never actually impeached. He resigned from office in 1974.
Democrats hope to finish the investigation in a matter of weeks—perhaps even before Thanksgiving. Will “the iron” stay hot enough for them to succeed?