Impeachment and Abuse of Power

Brianna Patt

On Wednesday Dec. 18, President Trump was impeached on two articles: one for obstruction of Congress and another for abuse of power according to AP news. Within all of this debate, there is the question of whether the Senate, the House, or both are abusing their powers and position. If this was just an attempt to quiet or attack Republicans. 

To address the latter, no the impeachment itself isn’t necessarily an overreach of power to silence Republicans. The President was impeached due to the belief that he used his power and position to try and manipulate a foreign leader into doing what he wanted him to do. According to the Washington Post, Trump called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelnsky and asked him to investigate Ukraine and Biden. According to the New York Times, Joe Biden had been accused of attempting to push Ukraine’s prosecutor out of his position due to him investigating a company connected to his son Hunter Biden. To pressure President Zelnsky, President Trump reportedly putting a hold on military aid to the country the day after the call.  White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney stated that aid was withheld in order to force Ukraine to comply with the President’s wishes, which Just Security. org stated was abuse of authority. So, this isn’t based off of shaky circumstantial evidence that would make an accusation of one party overstepping their boundaries seem far more plausible. However, there is the second charge against the President to take into account, the one that’s accused of being made up. 

New York Post contributor Josh Hammer stated that the Houses charge of obstruction of Congress was an overreach, going on to assert that if anything the second charge is part of the President’s job; key to a system of checks and balances. However, American Bar. org states that this a legitimate charge and power, albeit an implied one. So while the charge is shaky, it isn’t necessarily bogus. It doesn’t seem to really be an overreach of the powers that the House holds   to charge the President with obstruction of Congress. We know that abuse of power is a legitimate charge (as in its something that people have notably been charged with before). As for the House potentially doing something else illegitimate, as far as I know this has been a fair trial. The notably suspicious actions could be the considered overreach in the Mueller trial, but after the testimony of Special Counsel Robert Mueller no charges were brought against the President. Those connected to him were charged, but there was evidence for these charges, they weren’t frivolous attempts to get the President. It could be argued that the House consisting mostly of people on the left making the trial inherently unfair, that is understandable. But, that is why the impeachment articles also have to go through the Senate, who has the power to call witnesses. To ensure that before the President is removed from power, members of both parties get to check if there is any lacking evidence in this trial. With this being taken into consideration, has the Senate done anything that would legitimize any claims that they may fail to do their job when the impeachment hearing gets to them (Nancy Pelosi stated she didn’t want to send the articles to the Senate out of fear that they wouldn’t try the President as an example).

During the Mueller investigation, the Senate on multiple occasions blocked the public release of the Mueller report which many questioned, especially when taking into account that Senate majority-leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that he supports the President. Though this was thought of as questionable, it isn’t a crime. It’s no secret that there is a belief that Republicans are going above and beyond to back President Trump. As an example of the potential abuse of power, look at the Russia probe. While this is morally questionable in my opinion, the action itself isn’t necessarily illegal. The President has executive privilege, he has the ability to keep a document from getting out on the basis that the information in it is crucial to any ongoing investigations. By that same thread of logic, the Presidents call to the Ukraine in and of itself isn’t illegal, and neither is withholding military aid. The Senate stating that they don’t plan to have any witnesses has also been a point of contention and though that too isn’t illegal, it would be the first time this has happened (courtesy of Politico). While the Senate could be accused of abusing their power in both of these instances, the accusations as well as the evidence is circumstantial. These are not flat out instances of any obstruction, its implied. However, the combination of both actions with a transcript showing that there may have been some motivation is the issue at the moment.  

In conclusion, while I personally think there are attempts to abuse power in these impeachment trials by the Senate, what they have done so far doesn’t count as illegal. They are however, pretty questionable. Whether it’s argued that the actions by the Senate have been attempted by the House or a previously majority Democrat Senate, it doesn’t make it any better. It just sends a message that the government overall is more preoccupied with protecting themselves than helping the American people. That’s my concern as of now, that all of these actions that are legal but are still an abuse of power due to the clearly questionable motivations behind them are too close to going over the line of what’s acceptable. I do think that the House has pushed to get the answer they want (Mueller’s testimony for instance), but I think that the Senate pushing to keep Trump from being impeached has just made things worse. It isn’t showing that Liberals are just abusing their authority, it isn’t showing that Republicans are in the right; it’s showing that they are too busy taking advantage of their position and power to get their way.

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* P.S.- Impeachment DOES NOT mean the President is being removed from office, its simply a charge of misconduct against him.