Impeachment; Facts and Opinions

By: Colin Messinger Twitter: @ColinMessinger Instagram: @colin_messinger

Impeachment is the elephant in the room (no pun intended).  I’ll try to lay out the facts in chronological order as best I can.  But before I get started I have something to say that is arguably as important as the facts or my opinion.

I am very liberal.

In fact, I have described myself as a socialist more than once, although, I think Democratic socialist would be more accurate.  Everything I’ve written should be read with that in mind. I can’t get rid of my biases, so the best I can do is to state them clearly and let them be taken into account.  Of course, citing my sources helps as well. I’m not going to do some janky MLA shit though, I’ll just link articles to the concrete details I use.

With that aside, let’s get into it.

The basics:

The current hearings are being done by the House Intelligence Committee.  The chairman of this Committee is Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff of California’s 28th district.  The ranking Republican member is Devin Nunes of California’s 22nd district.  Generally, the impeachment process is misunderstood.  “Impeachment” happens in the House of Representatives, but it is nothing more than a formal recognition of misconduct.  Once an official has been impeached in the House, the Senate holds a trial. If the official who was impeached is convicted in that trial, they are removed from office.  If they are acquitted, they go back to their job. Multiple Presidents have been impeached; none have been removed from office.

A timeline:

In 2016, Hunter Biden, the son of then American Vice President Joe Biden was appointed to the board of a Ukrainian company named Barisma.  Ukraine has an endemic corruption problem. Ukraine’s top prosecutor at the time was Viktor Shokin and he was investigating Barisma for corruption.  Joe Biden conditioned foreign aid from the United States to Ukraine on Shokin being fired, and he was.  This is regular practice that foreign aid comes with conditions. It is also true however, that the EU, the U.S. State Department, and the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) were calling for Shokin to be fired.  It was official United States Policy that Ukraine replace him as prosecutor.

In April of 2019, Ukraine elected Volodymyr Zelensky to be their President.  He ran on a largely anti-corruption platform. He requested that Vice President Pence come to his inauguration.  Pence said he would go if his schedule allowed it. In the end, according to sworn testimony in front of the Intelligence Committee, President Trump decided that Pence would not go to the Inauguration in Ukraine.

The United States gives out Billions in foreign aid to a number of nations.  That includes Ukraine. I said earlier that it is standard practice for foreign aid to come with conditions.  The aid going to Ukraine had anti-corruption stipulations. Ukraine met those conditions according to a Defense Department statement on June 18, and the aid was scheduled to be released.  Later, a hold was placed on that aid by the executive branch.  When exactly the Trump administration decided to withhold the aid is disputed.  Jim Jordan, a Republican Senator from Ohio, stated in Ambassador Sondland’s hearing that the aid was held up on July 18th.  However, Lt. Colonel Vindman testified to the House committee that he was “concretely made aware of the fact that there was a hold” on the funds by July 3rd.

On July 25th President Trump had a phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky.  (This is where any liberal bias I have is likely to come through, read this critically and read the call transcript yourself.)  In the call, right after President Zelensky brings up the aid that the U.S. is giving to Ukraine, he was not yet aware that there was a hold on the funds, President Trump says “I would like you to do us a favor though.”  He then asks the Ukrainian President to investigate Crowdstrike.  Crowdstrike is a theory that Russian interference in the 2016 election was fabricated and that there are DNC servers to prove it hidden in Ukraine.  It has been widely discredited, and the Associated Press called it a conspiracy theory. Later in the call, Trump asks the Ukrainian President to speak to Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, and the U.S. Attorney General, William Barr about Joe Biden’s role in firing Ukrainian Prosecutor Shokin.  Trump says “I would like you to get to the bottom of it.” At the time, Joe Biden was leading the polls for the Democratic Primary.

Next comes the whistleblower. 

On August 12th, the whistleblower, whose identity is unknown, submitted a complaint to the Inspector General, Michael Atkinson.  On September 9th a letter from Atkinson reached congress that said that the whistleblower’s concerns were urgent, and being ignored.   On that day, September 9th, Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, demanded that the whistleblower’s complaint be released and sent to his committee.  The Whistleblower Statute outlines this as proper procedure.

On September 11th the aid to Ukraine was released.

The aid to Ukraine was vitally important because Ukraine is currently at war with Russia.  Not only would the aid help their defense efforts, but the optics of the United States backing them against Russia is certainly a deterrent to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s dictator.  Multiple witnesses in the hearings testified to this, among them were Bill Taylor and George Kent.

Now comes my opinion:

President Donald Trump, asked a foreign government to investigate his domestic political rival.  In other words, he asked Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 Presidential election. This was an official phone call between our President and Ukraine’s.  And our president used it to further his personal, political goals. For that- he should be impeached. To me, trying to get a foreign country to interfere in our elections is treason.  If I were the Speaker of the House, I would include treason as an article of impeachment. But that’s just me, and to be honest I’m really not sure if this would fall under the legal definition of treason.

If you’ve followed the impeachment inquiry even a little, you’ve probably heard the terms “quid pro quo,” “extortion,” and “bribery.” In this context though, they essentially mean the same thing, that the President made a deal, using his power as President, to help himself in the 2020 election.  Bribery, however, is the Democrats’ best bet for an impeachment article, because the Constitution specifically mentions it. Article II, Section Four of the constitution is only one sentence long. It says; “The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Because the deal between Trump and Ukraine is clear, bribery is a relatively easy case to make. Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland, testified that the aid was contingent on an investigation or an announcement of an investigation into the Bidens.

The Public hearings have not gone well for republicans.  Tim Morrison and Kurt Volker were included in the Republicans’ list of witnesses they’d like to see called.  They testified on November 19th and at one-point Republican Rep. Nunes referred to them as Schiff’s witnesses. Clearly they didn’t testify the way he had hoped they would.  During the proceedings the Representatives from both parties have asked the witnesses if they thought there was a quid pro quo. The question is an irrelevant one.  They are not legal witnesses, in Congress to testify whether Trump committed a crime. So far, they have all been fact witnesses called to give Congress a clearer picture of how things unfolded so that the Committee, and eventually the house as a whole can decide if a crime was committed.

One of many Republican arguments at the moment is that there was no quid pro quo because the aid was released and no investigation was announced or started into the Bidens.  The thing is though that the aid wasn’t released until after Congress found out about the whistleblower complaint. On September 9th, Congress caught the Trump administration with its pants down.  Releasing the aid two days later was just them pulling their pants back up.  In Ambassador Sondland’s testimony, a quote from Trump saying he wanted “no quid pro quo” came out.  The thing is though that he said that on September 9th after Congress announced they’d be looking into the whistleblower complaint and any potential quid pro quo.

Of course he denied it- it’s a fucking impeachable crime.

Next up is Rudy Giuliani who has acted as a back channel between Trump and Ukrainian officials.  Time and time again, in the impeachment hearings it was stated that investigating the Biden’s was not official U.S. policy.  But according to witnesses, that was what Giuliani was advocating for. That means that Giuliani, a private citizen, was undermining U.S. Foreign Policy.  That is treason and he should be tried for it.

I have no idea if the senate will vote to remove President Trump from office.  Reason and logic (remember again that this is my opinion section) suggest they would.  But the realist in me thinks they’ll fall perfectly in line with their party.

If you can, watch the hearings because this is history unfolding. I’ve got my fingers crossed that he’ll be impeached.  And I hope to every God there is, that this will be the last time a President needs to be removed from office.

Notes about this:

A decent amount of the facts included in here are not cited or included in the articles I’ve linked.  I just know the information from watching the hearings, and following the story for the past two months.  So, if something doesn’t sound right to you, please don’t take my word for it.

Look it up yourself. (You won’t find the whole story on CNN or Fox News btw)*

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Editor’s Note:

You never truly can- nice work Colin.