Common Hour panel discusses future implications of 2020 impeachment trials

By Isabel Paris || Campus Life Editor

This week’s Common Hour featured a panel of government professors discussing the history and current implications of impeachment. More specifically, the professors focused on the historical impacts of impeachment in the United States, the politics of impeachment, and the status of the impeachment process. Covering both domestic and foreign impeachment implications, the talk drifted into discussing public opinion as well as any possible impact on the 2020 Elections. 

Jennifer Kibbe, her research and career focus much on U.S. foreign policy, international relations, and political psychology. Matthew Schousen’s research is focused on United States institutions and he teaches many courses regarding Congress or the Presidency. Stephen Medvic is mainly concerned with campaigns and elections, the media, public opinion, and political parties. Each professor gave their own expertise and viewpoint on the current impeachment trials and how it is impacting the various levels of both domestic and international sectors.

The moderator, Terry Madonna, began the talk by overlaying general facts and information about the impeachment process. There are three articles that deal with impeachment in the US Constitution. There have been 19 impeachments in US history, 15 of those involved federal judges and 1 being a supreme court justice. The Constitution lays out in very specific terms who are involved in the process however the decision will fall to whatever the majority House of Representatives says it is. 

Jennifer Kibbe first spoke about the initial charge for the beginning of the investigation into President Trump. She says that while quid pro quo is now a universal Latin phrase that is equated with our current President, his supposed actions in regards to Ukraine stepped outside the realm of acceptable. While quid pro quo is used in terms of countries working together and giving and taking something. However, the difference is that President Trump supposedly used this form of quid pro quo for his own personal gains. Kibbe outlined the significance of Ukraine and why it is in the conversation at all. Since the separation from Russia, Ukraine is the most valued land. The US has been mostly bi-partisan and only desires to keep Ukraine out of Russia’s sphere. If Ukraine were to ever be brought back under Russia’s power, it would become an empire. This theory of Ukraine and President Trump was originally pushed by Russian propaganda channels in order to be hopefully released from the sanctions placed upon them. Kibbe finished out her time by explaining how high the stakes are in regards to the international community. She says that it is the survival of a long-time ally and how any move of Putin could disrupt the international system.

Matthew Schousen then spoke about the logistics behind the impeachment process. He began by pointing out that the impeachment of President Trump had not been a majority view in the Democratic caucus. In fact, most of the caucus hasn’t really wanted to impeach him. Nancy Pelosi had been rejecting any proposals of impeachment until the Ukraine issue arose. After the issue was brought to Pelosi’s attention, in mid-September six committees were investigating issues with a focus on finding any evidence that could lead to possible impeachment. The difference between this process and the processes of former Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon is that they started in a judiciary committee. Instead, for President Trump, the House started the collection and have been doing most of the leg work. Schousen emphasized that the intelligence committees are trying to collect as much information as they can. Their job is not to set up for impeachment but gathering enough evidence to evaluate if there is enough that impeachment would proceed. It is only after that they collected enough information that they hand it over to the judiciary committee and only then does the judiciary committee decides to go forward with a trial. The final issue Schousen touches upon is wondering how long could this possibly take? He says that it all depends on the scope of what the committee wants to address. Do they only include any implication of President Trump and Ukraine or do they bring over issues and evidence that was collected in addition to this main charge?

Wrapping up the talk, Stephen Medvic gave possible scenarios and speculation as to what will happen in terms of the election in light of these trials. He showed the public opinion polls and comparing where people are today in regards to where people were for Nixon and Clinton. Medvic also talked about how President Trump’s approval ratings have been pretty stable throughout these past months. Giving his best assumption, he said that President Trump is likely not going to be removed and that these impeachment trials won’t have an impact on the election. In regards to the general election, he believes that both parties are going to be motivated by these trials. Regardless of the outcome, each will strive for promoting their party in whatever way they believe will help them win. 

The Common Hour proved to be very informative and helpful especially for those who may not have been keeping up with these trials in general. People in the audience were clearly engaged and entranced by the seemingly simple but well-layered proceedings of impeachment and what it could mean for the United States both domestically and internationally.

Isabel Paris is the Campus Life Editor. Her email is iparis@fandm.edu.

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