Last week, House Democrats began a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. This comes after a whistleblower complaint alleging the President was using the power of his office inappropriately in conducting foreign policy.
In particular, the whistleblower’s complaint claimed that the President was withholding aid from U.S. ally Ukraine and was looking to exchange it for a Ukrainian investigation into allegations of corruption on the part of political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
On the outset, if this accusation is revealed to be true, the President should be thrown out of office immediately. That being said, as for now, there is no direct evidence to suggest that this action has taken place.
The complaint focuses heavily on a call President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky had in late July. A transcript of the call shows Trump and Zelensky covered topics such as foreign aid and Ukraine’s recent government corruption.
At no point in the conversation did Trump leverage anything against Zelensky in order to exploit the Ukrainian president.
The suspicious activity is the handling of U.S. aid to Ukraine, which Trump had withheld, claiming European nations should contribute more funds to Ukraine rather than the U.S. There is speculation that the purpose of this was rather to withhold funds until Ukraine investigated Joe Biden for acts of corruption in Ukraine.
The Trump Administration responded by acknowledging the conversation took place and releasing the transcript. The administration did deny the existence of any quid pro quo. The transcript shows that this is in fact true.
At no point does Trump specifically say that the aid would be available if Zelensky were to do him any favors. It is Zelensky who initially mentions both the aid and corruption within his government.
This then prompts Trump to ask about a potential Biden investigation, but Trump does not appear to threaten Zelensky if he refuses not to investigate the former vice president. Trump is clearly not the driving force in the conversation, as all he does in the conversation is slam European leaders and then respond to what Zelensky brings up.
The excuse Trump provided for withholding the aid does carry some weight, as it fits into his overall pattern of attempting to withdraw U.S. resources out of Europe. But with no direct evidence of a quid pro quo, there is nothing criminal about his call.
Zelensky himself confirmed that he has felt no pressure from Trump in a joint press conference with the American President.
Ultimately, there is nothing to impeach here. Trump is asking for help in regard to investigating Joe Biden. Asking an ally government to help gather political dirt on an opponent without jeopardizing foreign policy is not good, but not something a president should be impeached for.
Politicians have appealed to foreign governments to turn up political dirt for them in the past. In fact, Politico reported Hillary Clinton did this very thing in 2016 with the Ukrainian government. Her campaign and the DNC worked with members of the Ukrainian government to find dirt on Paul Manafort and connect it to Trump. Their findings led to Manafort’s dismissal from the Trump campaign.
The inquiry was necessary to get to the bottom of the story here, as the charge is very serious. However, if nothing new comes out of the proceeding investigations the Democrats are launching, impeachment is not a reasonable option.
If Trump did not abuse his power by initiating a quid pro quo, he should not have to face an impeachment trial. Don’t expect that to stop Nancy Pelosi though.