What Happened to Trump

Alex Chang and Alex Cottrell

For the third time in our country’s history, a president has been impeached. President Donald Trump was accused of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, meaning he acted without the permission of  Congress by blocking people from testifying and used his power for personal benefit. On July 25, 2019, Trump had a phone call with Volodymyr Zelenksy, the president of Ukraine. On this call, Trump was allegedly withholding $400 million in military aid until Ukraine agreed to investigate Joe Biden. In Congress, the House of Representatives has to vote to impeach the president. This vote took place in December 2019, and the House voted to impeach Donald Trump for the two charges. But then the Senate acquitted Donald Trump, saying that the offenses weren’t impeachable. But what does this mean for the country, and for our community? 


First, there is a difference between being impeached and being removed from office. Donald Trump has already been impeached because the House has voted to do so, but for the president to actually be removed, the Senate had to have 67 senators vote to remove him. And because there are only 47 Democratic senators, 20 Republicans would have had to break party lines and vote to impeach the Republican president. But since only two presidents have been impeached, and none of them have been removed, what he did has to be pretty serious, right? 


Ukraine relies on US military aid to defend itself from Russia, who is slowly encroaching on Ukraine’s territory. Trump withheld the aid, which Ukraine really needs because he wanted the Ukraine to investigate a political rival, Joe Biden. Back in 2014, Joe Biden was part of a movement to force a Ukrainian prosecutor out of the international community. However, it was suspicious because the prosecutor was investigating the company that Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, was on the board of. That’s why Trump wanted to investigate Biden, because he thought Biden would be the Democratic frontrunner, and if he could dig up dirt on Joe Biden it would help him beat Joe Biden. But the way he tried to find dirt on Biden was what the House impeached him for. This was the abuse of power charges. They said that the president can’t use his executive power for his own personal gain. The other charge, obstruction of Congress, was because Trump tried to prevent witnesses who had been summoned to testify before Congress, essentially blocking evidence from appearing in court. 


The Senate voted 51-49 to not call additional witnesses. Only two republicans crossed party lines and voted with the democrats. The Constitution 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.” The high crimes and misdemeanors are very vague and there are arguments on what qualifies as a high crime. Danny Bliss, a history teacher at Sequoia, said “It’s my understanding that the abuse of power and obstruction of Congress would qualify as [high crimes].” 


As for how this process has affected the community, it probably hasn’t. When asked what people would think if Trump got removed, Mr. Bliss said, “I think that there would be that a majority of members of the [Bay Area] community would be happy for a little while and then continue about with their lives.” And because Trump didn’t get removed, people in the Bay Area are more likely to be mildly disappointed. 

Overall, this impeachment has been a historic event. Students across the country have learned about it, and future students will also learn about it. Although nothing has changed, this has still been an important moment in our nation’s history.