In the world of politics, getting hard facts and finding the truth is often easier said than done.
Everything is tinted with partisan leanings and motivations which is why so many people are either perplexed by the current situation in Washington, DC or apathetic to it entirely.
Of course, we’re talking about the House of Representatives-led impeachment inquiry against current US President Donald Trump.
Alleging that there may be evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors on the part of the part of the President, House Democrats are currently building a case against him that the Republican side of the aisle claims is nothing more than a set of false charges and a need to put on a “show trial.”
The President himself, meanwhile, has kept the public somewhat informed of his opinions on the whole thing through his Twitter account which has done everything from lambast the former US ambassador to the Ukraine to denying any wrongdoing at all.
All of this leaves the average person wondering what is really going on in this country.
Don’t worry, we understand that sentiment and, in this article, we’re going to try to give you a quick overview of everything you need to know about Trump’s impeachment – free of partisan bias and rancor.
We’ll start off with some background.
The central accusation that the House is investigating involves a complaint by a whistleblower who overheard a call between President Trump and the President of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, wherein it is alleged that the US President requested that his counterpart initiate an inquiry into former US Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and his business dealings in that country with an oil and gas firm.
Launching this inquiry would secure a promised aid package to the Ukraine and, it is alleged by House Democrats, Trump’s request for this inquest is prima facie, or “on the face,” evidence of a quid pro quo deal offer.
On October 28th of this year the House voted to formalize an impeachment inquiry into the President’s actions which began with hearings on November 13th.
As any one who has paid attention to the news is well aware by now, there are more actors in this drama than just the Presidents of the United States and the Ukraine. In particular, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and friend, Rudy Giuliani, has figured heavily at the center of everything – and for good reason.
It is also alleged that Giuliani began efforts to pressure Trump’s Ukrainian counterparts to investigate Hunter Biden in a series of calls prior to Trump’s conversation with Zelenskiy. Beyond just withholding aid from the country, Trump was also allegedly postponing a planned meeting between the United States and the Ukraine’s leader which was largely seen as a way to grant the newly elected Ukrainian leader a large degree of legitimacy in a volatile region of Europe.
What makes this even more convoluted is that it is all related back to the so-called Russiagate scandal where it is alleged that Donald Trump received help from Russian President Vladimir Putin in the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton.
This is because there are connections between special-counsel Robert Mueller and the Trump administration’s efforts to discredit that investigation and the current issue with the whistleblower call in that the Mueller affair prompted the actions outlined in the now scandalous call.
Some have even highlighted a conspiracy theory floated by the Trump administration back at the start of his presidency where he alleged that sources in the Ukraine were working on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign.
NPR quotes Trump as saying in regards to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s servers, “They get hacked, and the FBI goes to see them, and they won’t let the FBI see their server…They brought in another company that I hear is Ukrainian-based.”
Whatever the ultimate origins of this scandal are, it involves more recent events that are somewhat more concrete and easier to identify.
Specifically, in June of this year the Department of Defense outlined how the Ukraine had taken significant steps towards eliminating corruption in its armed forces and was thus qualified to receive a $250 million congressionally approved grant from the US. This is the money at the center of the alleged quid pro quo deal that Trump made to the Ukrainian President Zelenskiy.
An aide for the Ukrainian President, Andrey Yarmak, then met with then US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and others which included US ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland who allegedly tied the receipt of this money to the pursuit of “investigations” in the Ukraine.
This statement apparently prompted then-National Security Advisor John Bolton to end the meeting and direct everyone to brief the lawyers about what transpired. Ambassador to the Ukraine William Taylor then described in his testimony how monies approved for the Ukraine were frozen on a direct order from the President.
This action initiated a series of meetings wherein the officers for the Office of Management and Budget, among others, agreed that the congressionally approved funds should be disbursed to the Ukraine.
He said in his testimony, “My understanding was that the Secretaries of Defense and State, the CIA Director, and the National Security Advisor sought a joint meeting with the President to convince him to release the hold, but such a meeting was hard to schedule and the hold lasted well into September.”
Further evidence of some kind of quid pro quo deal is alleged to come from special negotiation envoy to the Ukraine Kurt Voker’s texts which read, “Heard from White House – assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down a date for visit to Washington.”
It is important to note that, even though these are the central charges in the impeachment inquiry, other factors are influencing the decisions of actors on both sides of the aisle. To what extent this Ukraine scandal is part of the larger Russiagate narrative or not remains to be seen and, as an inquiry, the search for other possible instances of wrongdoing is quite unlimited once the process gets started.