The Trump-Ukraine scandal began this September with a whistleblower complaint to the Intelligence Community Inspector General, making claims of a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky discussing “the use of office power to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals,” says the Whistleblower.
By September 19th, it became clear to the U.S. public that the subject of the Whistleblower’s report was Trump attempting to persuade the Ukranian government to launch an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, the former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate. On September 25th and 26th, the White House allowed the whistleblower report, and the official White House record of Trump’s phone call with Zelensky to become accessible by the public.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with the rest of the House Democrats, launched an official impeachment inquiry as “an attempt to understand the full scope of President Trump’s abuse of power,” as put by Pelosi. Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chair, plans to investigate whether or not the allegations of soliciting foreign help in an election are true, and whether there has been a cover-up of the basic facts of Trump’s conduct.
In response, Trump has publicly denied any involvement in the Ukraine plan, and has even gone as far as to accuse his political opponents, primarily Adam Schiff, of committing treason. Trump asserts that there was no quid pro quo that happened on the phone call, and alleges that this is simply stirred up by biased operatives in the government who dislike Trump. However, in contradiction to his first account, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters that it is normal in U.S. foreign policy for America to incentivize other countries, which effectively killed the argument of the phone call containing no inappropriate behavior.
Since then, the process of impeachment has begun. The House Judiciary Committee has taken the leading role, and has been holding hearings and gathering witness testimonies in order to draft their formal accusation against the president, defined as “articles of impeachment.” The Judiciary Committee voted to approve these articles, and has sent them on to the full chamber. Eventually, the House will vote on each article of impeachment, and if even one article is approved by a majority vote, President Trump will have been impeached. If this happens, a trial will be held in the senate to assess the charges, and will work to decide whether Trump should be removed from office. In the trial, the House of Representatives works as a prosecutor, and will choose “impeachment managers” to argue before the Senate for their case, while the president’s lawyers make up the defense team. The chief justice of the Supreme Court presides and makes procedural rulings during the trial, but the Senate has the ability to vote to overrule his decisions. At the end of this trial, a vote is held on each article of impeachment, and if the Senate votes to convict rather than acquit the President (by a two-thirds majority), he is officially removed from office.