House Democrats Continue to Gather Evidence for Official Trump Impeachment Inquiry


President Donald Trump Speaks at the #FITN Republican leadership Summit in New Hampshire in 2015. Creative Commons photo: Michael Vadon on Flickr.

Crystal Bai, Print Editor

Why is there an impeachment inquiry, anyway?

The impeachment inquiry began after an August 2019 whistleblower complaint alleged that President Donald Trump had abused his power for personal political gain by pressuring Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic opponent and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. It is believed by impeachment investigators but denied by the White House that Trump withheld a $400 million military aid package from Ukraine in exchange for Zelensky’s cooperation, an example of a quid pro quo agreement.


What have Democrats found?


Oct. 3: Former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt D. Volker testified that U.S. envoys told Zelensky that he would have to agree to Trump’s requests for investigation before he could visit the U.S. 


Oct. 11: Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie L. Yovanovitch testified that she was ousted from her position in a campaign mounted against her by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, saying that her removal was based upon “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”


Oct. 15: George P. Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing American policy toward Ukraine, defied White House wishes to testify that he had warned his colleagues about Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine as early as March 2019.


Oct. 16: Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, testified that he resigned due to frustrations that the Trump Administration sidelined career diplomats on Ukraine policy, the last straw being Yovanovitch’s ouster.


Oct. 17: U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon D. Sondland testified that to his disappointment, Trump delegated much of Ukraine policy to Giuliani rather than the U.S. Department of State.


Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney stated that the U.S. did withhold military aid in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate, essentially admitting to a quid pro quo. Hours later, Mulvaney released a statement denying a quid pro quo.


Oct. 22: William B. Taylor Jr., the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified that Trump blocked aid to Ukraine and refused to meet with Zelensky until he publicly pledged to investigate Biden. Taylor’s testimony contradicts Trump’s claim that there was no quid pro quo agreement made.


Oct. 23: A group of House Republicans stormed a closed-door hearing to protest the impeachment inquiry process, claiming that classified testimony ought to be public information.

Oct. 29: Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the director for European affairs at the National Security Council who listened in on the call between Trump and Zelensky, testified that he tried and failed to add key details to the call’s transcript that the White House had omitted.


Oct. 31: The House voted to officially endorse the impeachment inquiry. The vote was 232 to 196 — every Republican opposed impeachment, while two Democrats broke ranks to oppose as well.


Nov. 5: Sondland reversed his initial testimony, confirming his role in laying out a quid pro quo to Ukraine.


Nov. 13: The first public impeachment hearings began. 


How does impeachment work, anyway?

Constitutional impeachment occurs when a majority of federal lawmakers vote that the president committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” If a majority of the Democrat-controlled House votes to impeach, Trump will technically be “impeached,” but the case then moves to a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate. If at least two-thirds of the Senate votes to convict, Trump will be removed from office.