Opinion: The risky game of Impeachment

Ida Echeverria

On Tuesday, Sept. 24, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, made a startling announcement. The House of Representatives was to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.

Pelosi’s hard line stance on delaying impeachment finally cracked, after a whistleblower report claimed Trump had been pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. Though the current front runner in the upcoming 2020 election, many view this investigation as a tactic to damage Biden’s candidacy.

Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, has been central in propelling a theory that Biden pressured Ukraine to fire their top prosecutor as a means to protect his son, Hunter Biden. At the time, Biden’s son was a board member of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. Though, the accuracy of these claims have repeatedly been called into question.

A July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, was the smoking gun in the whistleblower report. The transcript, released Sept. 25, shows Trump explicitly asking Zelensky to investigate the former Vice President. This was after mentioning the many benefits Ukraine has received from the U.S. Prior to the phone call, Trump had ordered his staff to freeze $391 million in aid to Ukraine that was meant for defense against the growing Russian aggression.

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According to the whistleblower, senior White House officials made an effort to “lock down” the call, under the direction of White House lawyers. Attorney General William Barr was also implicated in the alleged cover up.

Does this mean Trump is going to be impeached? Not exactly.

An impeachment inquiry is a precursor to actual impeachment. House committees compile their evidence related to impeachable offenses. If the evidence is deemed sufficient, the House of Representatives will take a vote to decide whether or not to impeach. Until a vote is taken in the House, a formal impeachment cannot begin.

The biggest fear for Democrats is whether this will become another Mueller report; with a lot of hype that fizzles into nothing?

Practically speaking, announcing an impeachment inquiry does not change very much. There are multiple ongoing investigations into Trump, that are being conducted by various House committees. The whistleblower report is like the cherry on top.

Considering this is not Trump’s first alleged brush with possible treason, it does not bode well. Yet, if Democrats want to win in 2020, impeachment is a risky way to do it.

A recent Quinnipiac poll shows clear divisions. Liberal leaning voters are in favor of impeachment, and conservative voters are not. Their findings show little change in public opinion from a Monmouth poll released last month. Regardless of the evidence, ideological bias will predetermine how one views it.

Though the whistleblower report may seem like a bombshell, it may not be enough to sway the undecided voter.

The problem with impeachment is that Democrats have talked too much about it. Between his blatant rhetoric, accusations of Russian collusion, schmoozing with oligarchs or paying hush money to porn stars, there has been no shortage of controversy to the Trump presidency. Yet, controversy does not equal impeachment.

Trump lives on shock value and the Democrats have repeatedly taken his bait. With every new outrage against him, actual impeachable offenses are demeaned. The whistleblower report becomes less evidence of a crime, but instead part of a long, long list of vindictive attempts to remove him from office.

The more fights picked with an opponent, the more the opponent has to come back with a stronger punch. As such, impeachment is the long anticipated fight that Trump’s administration is now very well equipped to handle.

It is unfortunate because there may now finally be substantial evidence to prove what many have suspected. Yet, even for those who are in favor of impeachment, it is beginning to feel a bit like crying wolf.