This week, the US House of Representatives held a landmark vote to impeach President Donald Trump. He now joins Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as one of only three presidents to face a Senate trial.
On a now-infamous July 25 phone call, Trump indicated to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that military aid and a possible meeting with the White House would be contingent on Ukraine announcing an investigation into the son of Trump’s political rival and leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden.
While many saw this as a clear case of soliciting foreign help in an election, the majority of Republicans have cast doubt on whether Trump’s actions are impeachable.
One of those Republicans is Harlan Hill, a Trump 2020 advisory board member. “I read the transcript and I didn’t find that it was offensive at all,” he said, adding that he agreed with the president that it was a “perfect” call. Many Republicans say Trump should not be impeached, claiming that nothing illegal was done.
But Georgetown University constitutional law professor John Mikhail does not see it that way. “It’s very clear from the history and the scholars who have looked at this very closely, that criminal conduct is neither necessary nor sufficient to constitute impeachable conduct under the Constitution,” he said.
For Democrats like Tiffany Cross, cofounder of the Washington, DC news website The Beat DC, Trump’s behaviour surpassed the bar for impeachable conduct. “If we are not going to impeach this president for this, what will we impeach a president for?” she said. “This is the conservation of our democracy. Our democracy has never before been tested like this.”
Trump’s acquittal is considered inevitable with a two-thirds majority needed in the Republican-held Senate in order to remove him from office. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Lindsey Graham have stated publicly they have already made up their minds before the trial.
“It’s really not the Republican Party any more,” said Cross. “This is like the Trump sycophant land that we’re in,” adding, “I think it is important for the American people to see the evidence laid out before them. I think it’s unfortunate that you don’t have an impartial Senate. Majority leader Mitch McConnell has said openly that he’s coordinating with the White House.”
“I don’t even think there should be a trial,” said Hill. “Let’s just vote. Like, let’s put this on a fast track, let’s get this done with. This has been all a political show.”
Some say Trump’s acquittal could backfire for Democrats and embolden his base. “Ultimately, I think that this will go to the voters in 2020 and he’s going to win in a landslide,” said Hill.
Cross believes the impeachment has only hurt his campaign. “Trump’s base has not grown since 2016,” she said. “He has only lost people. There’s nobody that looks at the past few years and says, ‘You know what! That Trump guy, he’s onto something. I think I’m going to switch sides and get in his camp’.”
On this week’s UpFront special, we discuss the impeachment of Trump with Republican political consultant Harlan Hill, liberal commentator Tiffany Cross and constitutional law professor John Mikhail.
Follow UpFront on Twitter @AJUpFront and Facebook.
Source: Al Jazeera News