Image courtesy of: Greg Skidmore
On September 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the house will begin a formal impeachment inquiry into US President Donald Trump.
The move stems from a complaint made by a whistle-blower from within the intelligence community which alleges the President tried to pressure Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, into investigating a political rival.
The allegation focuses on a phone call that took place between President Trump and newly elected President Zelensky on 25 July.
The whistle-blower was not on the call but received this information from more than “half a dozen U.S. officials”. The complaint highlights two key issues.
Trump has urged Ukraine and China to reopen a criminal investigation into Hunter Biden, son of former vice-president and 2020 Democrat candidate Joe Biden.
The complaint claims Trump tried to “solicit interference from a foreign country” to increase his chances of re-election in 2020.
The whistle-blower accused the White House of trying to cover up the conversation by making the transcript of the call classified.
The inquiry focused primarily on whether Trump used his position to withhold military aid to Ukraine in exchange for a political ‘favour’.
The now partially released transcript has started to corroborate some of the statements made by the anonymous whistle-blower.
Many have highlighted a key line within the transcript in which Trump is quoted as saying: “I would like you to do us a favour” in response to the Zelensky’s mention of buying more military weapons from the US.
Following this, Trump requested Zelensky to “look into” Hunter Biden further.
Supporters of the inquiry frequently cite this as an example of a quid-pro-quo and extortion of a foreign government.
House Speaker Pelosi commented on the severity of the situation exclaiming that “the impeachment of a president is as serious as our congressional responsibility can be”.
In connection to these recent revelations, the inquiry is likely to investigate the intentions of the White House suspending all US security assistance to Ukraine on 18 July under Trump’s instruction.
Notably, Trump made this request a week before the call with President Zelensky - which is now at the centre of the investigation.
As more is revealed daily, the scope of the investigation continues to grow.
New information has revealed that more top U.S. officials may have been involved in a more widespread pressure campaign towards the Ukrainian government.
The transcript revealed that Trump’s lawyer Mr Giuliani was asked to discuss the issue of corruption with the President.
This is mentioned within the complaint alongside the note that Giuliani met with Zelensky’s advisers in early August.
William Barr, Attorney General, has become embroiled in the scandal as the complaint stated that he “appears to be involved” in some capacity.
The transcript released by the White House quotes Trump as offering Barr’s services to Zelensky to “get to the bottom” of his suspicions about Biden.
Whilst the President has admitted to mentioning the Biden family during the call, he has vehemently protested his innocence and claims the new inquiry “is not an impeachment, it is a coup”.
President Trump commented that the topic of corruption was only mentioned in the call as he feared “people like Biden and his son” could potentially be “adding to the corruption” within Ukraine.
In regards to the suspension of military aid, Trump argued this was an effort to persuade other European countries to contribute more to the joint effort in Ukraine.
The President tweeted his frustrations stating that the inquiry was “The greatest Witch Hunt in the history” of the United States.
The coming weeks are likely to see more revelations as the investigation continues. Several key figures have been deposed and are expected to speak with Congress behind closed doors.
Contacted for comment, Dr Andrew Wroe, University of Kent Senior lecturer in American politics, gave InQuire his thoughts on whether or not the impeachment will go through.
Dr Wroe said: “Trump will be impeached in the House if there is a vote, but he’s very unlikely to be convicted in the Senate. Senate Republicans…will not vote against the President unless some extraordinary and incriminating new evidence of the upmost malfeasance comes to light.
"As it stands, Senate Republicans are simply scared of Trump…they are scared for their jobs. So long as they think that keeping their jobs requires them to support the president, Trump is probably safe.”
Dr Wroe then gave his insights on what the inquiry meant for American politics. “The impeachment inquiry confirms that we are witnesses to one of the most divisive, polarised, partisan and vituperative periods in American history."
"It’s going to get worse in the course of the next year.”