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Opinion: Trump’s impeachment — how we got here
Protesters demonstrate as the House of Representatives begins debate Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington. - photo by Associated Press

When you read this letter, the full House of Representatives will have voted on the impeachment of Donald Trump. The next step will be the trial, which will probably take place in January with Chief Justice John Roberts the trial judge and the Senate Republicans running the trial. So what led us to this point in our history?

This impeachment proceeding started because of a memo a whistleblower sent to the intelligence community inspector general. The memo, dated July 26, is based on a conversation the whistleblower had with an unnamed White House official who listened to a July 25 call between Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Voldomyer Zelensky. 

According to the memo, the White House official described the contents of the call as "crazy," "frightening" and "completely lacking in substance related to national security." 

After the White House tried to hide the whistleblower complaint, it was released, and Congress began to investigate. Witnesses to the call confirmed that Trump did indeed ask the Ukrainian President for a favor in exchange for nearly $400 million in military aid, which was being withheld by the president — aid that Congress had voted to give Ukraine. 

The favor asked of him was to investigate Joe Biden, Trump's most likely opponent in the 2020 election, and Biden's son, Hunter, and to publicly announce he was initiating this investigation. 

Many government and intelligence officials testified for a week before the House Intelligence Committee that the president was indeed asking “for a favor” in return for releasing aide to Ukraine in that phone call. As the witnesses were called, officials such as Mick Mulvaney, and John Bolton were also called to testify, but Trump refused to let them testify. 

The president openly defied Congress by refusing to release pertinent documents and commanding key witnesses not to testify. All of this is clearly documented either by witnesses or by Trumps’ public tweets and actions during the investigation.

Here is the very short version of the Articles of Impeachment:

  1. Abuse of power: Pressuring the president of Ukraine to dig up dirt to be used against Trump’s political opponents in exchange for receiving $400M in aide that had already been approved by Congress.

  2. Obstruction of justice: Refusal to release documents or allow White House officials to testify before Congress.

Republicans are arguing that there was no crime committed because the favor didn’t happen. But that is not what the Constitution says or the law. 

For a great explanation by a nonpartisan group, read this on the Lawfare blog. Republicans also argue they didn’t get to call enough witnesses. Congress could have heard from Bolton and Mulvaney and others. But Trump refused to let them testify — why? If their testimony could exonerate the president then why not let them be heard?

The majority of Americans value our democracy and our Constitution! We do care about a president who takes his oath of office seriously, and Donald Trump definitely does not do that! He should be impeached!

Bette Holland