Editorial: Impeachment: an Issue of Ethics, Not Politics

When we talk about impeachment, the discussion often returns to political strategies and upcoming elections. In reality, it’s just a matter of whether or not the president is abiding by the law. Impeachment is included in the United States (US) Constitution in order to hold all Americans accountable, including the president. After Speaker Nancy Pelosi began impeachment proceedings on September 24, 2019, the only relevant question is: has the president committed a crime? 

On September 25, 2019, Trump released the transcript of his phone call to the Ukranian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he asks Zelensky to speak with the Attorney General of the US about investigating 2020 democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s actions. Democrats are claiming that Trump was abusing his power. Not only was he asking for foreign involvement in a US election, but he was also insinuating that he would unblock the $390 million in military aid designated for Ukraine if Zelensky helped his 2020 campaign. While it has yet to be legally proven, there is reason to believe Trump has committed a crime, which calls for the beginning of impeachment proceedings.

In her announcement, Pelosi made a critical point when she said, “No one is above the law.” Sitting presidents — as well as those who have served their terms — need to be held to the same standards as every other citizen. Lack of previous impeachment actions, despite countless political and personal scandals, has further enabled Trump’s sense of immunity. Asking a sitting president of a different country to meet with the Attorney General of the US and discuss a political opponent is completely unscrupulous.

In its own way, the Berkeley High School (BHS) community has experienced its own election interference and fraud. In March of 2019, two candidates in the BHS Associated Study Body (ASB) leadership elections were disqualified from the race. One of the BHS students running for ASB President had signed in to over 550 BHS students’ individual email accounts and voted for their own candidacy. Any person who runs for office or a position of power is asking for the trust of their future constituents. If that promised trust is broken, there must be repercussions for that person’s actions. In this example, the BHS student body set their trust in the ASB candidates, and ultimately were deceived by one of them. Still, the trust that was broken was counteracted with an investigation conducted by administration.  Similarly, when Trump took his oath of office he made a promise to uphold the Constitution and, within that, a promise to continue the legacy of democracy that the US holds. What he has done with regards to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and attempted exchange with the Ukrainian president has tarnished the reputation of America as one of the first and strongest democracies. Choosing not to investigate this behavior and apply appropriate consequences would be condoning it.

In simple terms, Trump has not earned the trust of the American people. He should be stripped of his credentials and criminally charged. His high ranking title should not  be enough to protect him from the law more than anyone else. Whether or not his administration values it, Trump is meant to be a public servant. He has made a commitment to the American people, so it his responsibility to follow through. His own political agenda should never be put above the wants and needs of the population he has vowed to serve.

Despite Speaker Pelosi’s announcement, the representatives of the House and the Senate are far from agreement on the matter. Given that the House and the Senate are so divided, it is unrealistic to assume that Trump will be impeached or removed from office, but the actions that took place still justify a full investigation. Regardless of the possible outcomes, the impeachment process should continue to play out publicly for the American people to see. History judges silence harshly, so it is essential that impeachment proceedings take place to claim what’s left of the dignity and honesty that belongs in the White House.

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