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Understanding Impeachment

The impeachment inquiry into President Trump is in full swing and with new information coming out each day, understanding this situation has become nearly impossible for anyone who may have missed the last few weeks of news. However, understanding this topic is necessary for all Americans as we head towards the general election in 2020. Impeachment will affect not only the presidential race but every tier of government.

When discussing impeachment, one must understand what it is. A common misconception is determining what constitutes impeachment and what does not. Impeachment is not the removal from office but rather is a decision made by the House of Representatives as to whether or not to bring charges against an official, in this case, the president. When the House impeaches a president, it is the agreement to bring charges upon the president for whichever crimes they believe them to have committed. The actual removal from office is the duty of the Senate which holds a trial, presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. To remove a president from office, there must be two-thirds agreement amongst the members. 

The current state of President Trump’s impeachment is simply an inquiry. This is a gathering of evidence by various House committees who will then report their findings and if there is sufficient evidence to impeach, then the articles of impeachment will be created. While the timeline is unclear, House Democrats are pushing to hasten this process by holding many closed hearings of relevant witnesses. The most recent of these witnesses being Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the European Union. His testimony is expected to explain whether or not there was a quid pro quo.

Some may ask, “What is quid pro quo,?” With the speed of this inquiry, a basic explanation of terms to the public is often forgotten. Quid pro quo refers to a given favor with the expectation of something in return. This leads to the question many are debating, was what the President did quid pro quo or not? The President is, unsurprisingly, denying that that is what happened while others like Democratic commentators will say it was undeniably quid pro quo. However, there are some like Gordon Sondland who provides a more nuanced response. While he is expected to say that these actions were quid pro quo, he would argue that they were not corrupt. This determination will be crucial if articles are brought upon the President and he is brought to trial in front of the Senate. Sondland’s talking point is a defense that those against impeachment and removal from office will likely use, perhaps to protect the President or perhaps to avoid a political circus. Motivation is particularly hard to predict in this situation and false presumptions can be particularly detrimental to these proceedings.

The state of limbo that encapsulates this impeachment inquiry is a particular worry for both Republicans and Democrats. While each party has its reasons, the uncertainty of American politics in the coming months is enough to worry anyone. Unfortunately for the average citizen, information and peace of mind will take time, the latter perhaps will never come. However, we as a country but remain unprejudiced and put some faith that the outcome will be the best possible for our future, whatever that may be for each individual.