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  • Hugh Smiley

Starting the Impeachment Engines

If you happen to have paid any attention to USA politics in the last few years there are two words you will have been unable to avoid: Impeachment and Russia. However, the latter has, in the last few days at least, been abandoned by the media and replaced with Ukraine. What at first many saw as another standard Trump outrage, with cries for impeachment and then a swift moving on to the next scandal, actually appears to be the potential beginning of the official impeachment process for president Trump.

However, this issue with Ukraine, Trump and somehow Biden having seemingly come out of nowhere can be difficult to follow, so I have done my best to formulate a comprehensive timeline of the events.

  • Early 2019- Rudy Giuliani, Trumps personal lawyer and media proponent, formulates connections to Ukrainian prosecutor Lutsenko, in an attempt to gain information about the origins of the Mueller report, as well as (more importantly) dirt on Joe Biden, relating his son Hunter, who whilst Joe Biden was Vice President, presiding over relations with Ukraine, accepted a very lucrative job at the Ukraine’s largest gas company. Whilst these dealings with the Biden’s and the Ukraine are certainly shady there isn’t much evidence (yet) to suggest illegality.

  • April 21st- Zelensky wins the presidency of Ukraine, causing Giuliani to lose Lutsenko as a contact, meaning the US requires new/more leverage over the Ukraine.

  • May 6th- US ambassador to Ukraine recalled

  • May 10th- Giuliani cancels meetings with people close to Zelensky

  • May 14th- Pence, who was going to lead the US’ delegation to Zelensky’s inauguration was pulled back, all in attempt to pressure the Ukraine.

  • July 18th- The US announces freezing of 391-million-dollar worth of military aid to the Ukraine, which had already been approved by congress

  • July 25th- Trump in a phone call to Zelensky says ‘I would like you to do us a favour though’ this favour being for the Ukrainian leader to investigate further into potential collusion/corruption issues regarding Biden’s son's appointment.

  • August 12- A whistle-blower files a complaint to the CIA council that Trump is abusing his power as President to pressure foreign powers to help him win the 2020 election.

  • September 9th- House investigation begins

  • September 11th- USA releases aid to the Ukraine.

As shown on the timeline there are 3 areas of interest for those who would pursue impeachment, with the first being identifying any specific laws that may have been broken. However, at this point evidence of this appears relatively weak, for whilst the actions presented between Trump and Ukraine are shady, they are actually not breaking many, if any laws. For example, it is clear that despite claims, Giuliani didn’t obstruct justice nor did he tamper with witnesses.

The second issue, a stronger one, is certainly Giuliani’s role in this affair. We have become accustomed to Trump’s inner circle/family/friends playing a huge role in issues which they arguably have little right of being involved in such as Jared Kushner’s involvement in the Middle East. Whilst most of those people have been government employees, Giuliani is not. As Trump’s personal lawyer he has no right to be engaging with any foreign powers in a way that is in relation to governance. This practice is extremely sketchy if not illegal, presenting a grounds for impeachment on presidential misconduct by allowing someone with no right access to foreign affairs policy.

The third and arguably most incriminating issue is that as president, Trump has sworn to act only to advance the interests of the United States and never those of his own, which in this case, he clearly hasn’t adhered to. As the transcript shows Trump very clearly attempted to use his power to pressure a foreign leader to help him win an election, and to damage his political rivals. This is very clearly an attempt to use his power has president to advance his own interests, something which is an impeachable offence, for abuse of power. Withholding congressionally approved military aid in an attempt to make the relationship, as Giuliani put it, more ‘reciprocal’ through the means of providing information to defeat a political rival, is clearly an impeachable offence. This impeachment push should be best centred around presidential misconduct/abuse of power. Both the utilisation of Giuliani as an unofficial government official, as well as pressuring numerous foreign powers, such as Ukraine and potentially Australia has handed Congress a substantial mandate for starting the impeachment proceedings.

Through all of this chaos, each day more and more is being revealed. Australia has come out as being pressured and China has reportedly received a similar phone call regarding the Mueller investigation. It is important to further recognise the suspicious nature of the Biden situation with his son, yet the actions of Trump in this particular scandal has stirred something in the stomach of Congress that won’t go away anytime soon.

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