Students and faculty are weighing in on the House Democrats’ decision to begin impeachment proceedings for President Donald Trump. The impeachment proceedings were announced by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, last Tuesday. If the House votes to impeach Trump, he will be the third president to ever be impeached, including Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson. Neither Clinton nor Johnson were removed from office.
The pressure put on Trump by Democrats has only increased since a summary of his call with Ukraine was released. Evidence suggests Trump used his influence to pressure the president of Ukraine into interfering with the upcoming election. Trump expressed concerns about Joe Biden, presidential hopeful, and his son Hunter, who worked as a director for Ukraine’s largest private gas distributor. More can be read about the allegations against Trump here.
“If the Democrats didn’t push back on the president’s behavior regarding Ukraine, what would discourage him from enlisting other foreign entities to intervene in US presidential elections?” asked Dr. Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at UMW, on behalf of those arguing for impeachment. “The leverage Trump is appearing to use on Ukraine is US taxpayer dollars authorized for Ukraine by Congress – $391 million in support for a poor country facing a foreign occupation and in need of immediate assistance.”
According to Farnsworth, “As long as the president retains significant support among Republican Party voters, there will not be enough votes in the Senate to convict him.”
Farnsworth said the House Democrats’ timing makes sense.
“While some Democrats wanted to start formal impeachment proceedings before now, it seems wise for the party’s leadership to have waited until there was widespread agreement among Democrats to proceed with a formal impeachment investigation,” he said. “There have been impeachment-related investigations going on for months, but interest has increased substantially in the wake of reports and testimony on the Ukraine matter.”
UMW students’ reactions range. Joey Zeldin, freshman and prospective political science and history double major said that the impeachment process is not worth it with the next presidential election coming up so soon.
“We need to focus our efforts on not impeaching our president and focusing on what we can do to get a better president,” he said. “We need to focus on making the White House a better place and not focusing on getting this one president out of the White House.”
“The timing is not opportune,” said freshman Simon Jones. “This is like getting the paper done the night before the due date.”
Jones said he wishes the impeachment process had begun sooner but is hopeful Democrats will now have enough evidence to impeach.
“Now we have concrete evidence,” he said.
Freshman and political science major Jesse Frye said that the impeachment proceedings are “much too late.”
“The worst the House could do is censure, especially now,” he said.
Freshman accounting major Caroline Marschall is also hopeful Trump will be impeached.
“He did something completely illegal, that people can prosecute him on with rock hard evidence now, instead of circumstantial evidence,” she said.
Farnsworth explained why this particular scandal might gain the impeachment movement more traction.
“Democrats were clearly disappointed in the muted public reaction to the Mueller report, which they had hoped would generate support for impeachment,” he said. “The Ukraine matter, in contrast, is much simpler to understand and, from the point of view of public relations, one that can be explained to the public more effectively. Democrats will make certain that the Ukraine scandal will dominate the news cycles in the weeks ahead.”
“That likely approach, by the way, was the Watergate playbook used against Nixon: put out negative information about the president in public hearings day after day and watch the president’s public support erode day by day,” Farnsworth said.