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Diplomats testifying at inquiry hearings

      A simple phone call. Routine correspondence between world leaders. Normally, such things are not worth much notice, but in July 2019, a long-awaited spark started the fires of impeachment. A whistleblower, fueled either by a sense of duty or disapproval of Trump, revealed a phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, concerned of the possible misuse of power. 

      Trump has been accused of abusing his power as president through investigating political opponent Democrat Joe Biden. He claimed that Biden engaged in corruption by having his son Hunter be made the executive of an Ukrainian oil company.  

      Cries for Trump to be impeached have been happening since he was elected, but this call was the nail in the coffin for many Americans. His election was not the end of America, as many others claimed it to be. But with the current evidence we have, it is clear that Trump abused his powers as president, and thus should be impeached. 

      House Democrats originally began with an informal impeachment inquiry, but after complaints from House Republicans, formally started the impeachment process. It is unclear why Republicans fought for this so much, since with a Democrat majority in the House this resolution was undoubtedly going to pass. Currently, witnesses have been called to hearings with irrefutable legal obligation to attend them. This leads into Trump’s next impeachable offense: refusing to comply with the hearings. 

      Contrary to popular belief, the President of the United States is not a tyrant, who is able to do as they please: they have to listen to Congress. One such example is the federal budget. The President can create and submit any budget they please, but Congress has the final say. Impeachment is much the same way. Trump can voice complaints, but it does not change the fact that he must comply with the impeachment hearings.  

      The hearings have not faced challenges from just the President, but have also been attacked by House Republicans. As mentioned earlier, Republicans unnecessarily requested that the impeachment process be formalized, but this is not the only instance of Republican stubbornness. In October 2019, at least 30 Republican representatives, led by Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), stormed closed-door impeachment hearings, delaying proceedings by around five hours. This is incredibly damaging to our justice system, because any witness present at a hearing will be far less willing to divulge information out of fear of being attacked by Republicans.  

      Yet the Republicans might have a point. The President is allowed, and supposed to, investigate corruption. This is concedable: with current evidence, Biden most likely did engage in corrupt behavior by having his son take on the position. But that does not change that Trump abused the presidency to investigate a political opponent. Breaking the law to arrest a criminal is deplorable. If Trump was genuinely concerned about Biden being corrupt, he should have created a federal department to investigate this. Most of the Democrat candidates could not talk to Zelensky one-on-one like Trump can. There is no way to reinforce this enough: Trump misused his position. 

      This matter interests some Westfield students, who have agreed to provide their perspectives on the matter. 

      William Murrel, 12, when asked about the inquiry, says that “Trump has done some bad things,” and that “inquiry alone isn’t bad.” While he believes that it “won’t pass the Senate,” it is “not a waste of time, as evidence of other crimes could be discovered,” such as tax evasion.  

      Murrel also details that it’s “bad to use impeachment as a political tool,” as it sets a bad precedent for later presidents, but concedes that “Pelosi was forced to look into impeachment.” 

      Nick Sontra, 12, feels similarly, asserting that “it’s necessary, because we need to keep officials under watch and in check.” He refutes claims that Democrats are doing this from a sense of duty, instead affirming that “it’s a disguise,” and that the impeachment is “entirely politically motivated to undermine the current president.” 

      Sontra thinks that “it will push voters to Democrat,” but if the Senate blocks the impeachment, “it will backfire and voters will go Republican.” 

      The Senate blocking impeachment is a very real possibility. Republicans argue that the Senate, currently with a Republican majority, is not going to convict Trump. And if it did, who cares? Elections are less than a year away. This will not have any great effect.  

      And they are correct. Impeachment will probably be fruitless. But that does not change the fact that even if it is ultimately ineffective, no one is above the law. Trump’s position, the timing, the reason House Democrats started this, all do not matter. What matters is that it is important, for our democracy, that any official who uses their position for personal gain be removed. And any President, including Donald Trump, is not exempt from this.