In the past few weeks, the American political system has been wracked with a scandal involving a whistleblower, President Trump, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. While details are still emerging about this situation, a general timeline can be established which paints a clearer picture of the true dealings between these two powerful leaders.
This story starts with a phone call on July 25th from President Trump to the recently-elected Zelensky. The newly revealed details of the phone call bring to light the President’s request for an investigation into Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. For months, the Trump Administration and Rudy Giuliani, in particular, have been putting the pressure on Ukraine to find incriminating evidence on Joe and Hunter Biden’s business dealings with the country. It is assumed that they would have wanted to use this information against Joe Biden during the upcoming primaries and general election. This situation already seems troubling but is made even more so when the actions taken by the Trump Administration after the call were revealed.
Released to the public on September 26th, the whistleblower report details how the President and his advisors took every measure to hide to contents of this call, even going as far to remove the transcript from its standard computer system and placing it in a higher classified and therefore more heavily protected database. This all begs the question, what was explicitly said on the phone call? The official whistleblower report accurately explains the contents of the call and goes on to describe how President Trump attempted to use his power in order to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 presidential election.
As a result of this call and the subsequent information released after the fact, many have once again brought up the potential of an impeachment hearing for the President. Throughout this presidency, impeachment has been on the minds of Democrats, Independents and Republicans for various reasons. However, it now seems that the gravity of this particular incident has inspired action among Democrats in the House of Representatives. While some on the more extreme end of the spectrum argue that impeachment should have started months ago, but opinion writers like David Brock say that this is just the scandal that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was waiting for. In a piece for NBC, Brock explains his and many others’ shared sense of doubt in impeachment, arguing that it would take away from the issues at hand. Brock’s argument was that just because the House can impeach does not mean they should. It would ultimately work against the Democrats in 2020. These fears are not unfounded, particularly when examining Bill Clinton’s impeachment in which the Republican eagerness to impeach backfired and even raised Clinton’s approval ratings by the end of the entire situation. So why the change of heart? Some believe it is the right and moral thing to do while others think that this is the strongest case presented thus far for impeachment. For the most part, it is a combination of the two that is motivating most Democrats at the moment.
Currently, the House Democrats are attempting to streamline the investigation process with Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) being quoted by NPR saying that “This is not going to require months and months and months of hearings… unlike the Mueller report, where we’re trying to piece together events of the past, this played out in plain view and real time to the American people.” While Democrats move closer to impeachment, Republican lawmakers remain wary of these proceedings. A few wary Republican lawmakers, including Senator David Perdue and Senator Ron Johnson, insist that these are not impeachable offenses but ill-advised actions of the President. Within the coming weeks, it is expected that House committees will finish their reports on various Trump Administration actions and those final reports will be used in order to make the case for impeachment.
One important testimony is still in the works, however. The anonymous whistleblower is expected to testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee very soon though there is no specific date as of now. This is most likely intentional to keep the whistleblower’s identity under wraps. While there have been many statements from President Trump and others expressing intent to reveal this person’s identity, the lawyers who represent the whistleblower have made it their priority to conceal this former CIA agent’s identity. Fortunately for them, there are laws made to protect a whistleblower from retaliation as well as keeping their anonymity.
We may never know the true identity of this whistleblower nor the contents of that phone call between the two heads of state. We can, however, be certain of one thing, the American political landscape is changing and with every new report that comes out, we are witnesses to the real time-shifting of ideologies and morals within our society.