Trump's conduct surrounding the Ukraine Phone Call is grounds for impeachment

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Mechanics' Institute

57 Post St · San Francisco, CA

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On the 4th floor of the Mechanics' Institute, at the end of the hall, in the Boardroom

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If you are interested in speaking for or against the Motion or moderating this debate, please contact event organizer Deborah through this website.

On September 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump, a dramatic and historic move that comes as the President faces outrage over reports that he pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in an effort to target Joe Biden, a political rival. In the rough transcript of his conversation with Zelensky, Trump said America has been very good to Ukraine, but he wanted the relationship to be more “reciprocal.” Zelensky agreed and asked for more anti-tank missiles to deter ongoing Russian military aggression. Trump responded saying he would be happy to do so although he had a couple favors to ask.

First, Trump asked Zelensky to look into the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s servers, saying "I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike ... I guess you have one of your wealthy people ... The server, they say Ukraine has it." Then, Trump mentioned “the other thing” he wants: “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great”.

For context, Congress had approved nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine but Trump had blocked the aid transfer prior to his call to Zelensky, without notifying Congress. "Crowdstrike" is a company that runs cybersecurity investigations for the US government, which was called in by the Democratic National Committee to handle a server that was reportedly hacked by the Russians during the 2016 election. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, had been hectoring the Ukrainians for months to go after Biden, as Giuliani admitted during interviews earlier this year. Both Bidens have denied any wrongdoing, and no evidence has emerged to suggest they broke US laws.

Argument in favor of the motion: The Ukraine scandal points to a stark impeachable offense. The president leveraged the public purse for personal political benefit, undermining national security and the integrity of the 2020 election. There is nothing ambiguous here. Trump is at the center of the action, personally making demands for election interference of the Ukrainian president, with corrupt intent. In addition, Trump’s solicitation of a political favor in exchange for releasing funds approved by Congress clearly violates federal laws making it illegal for a candidate in an American election to solicit or accept anything “of value” from a foreign source. If these actions don’t constitute “high crimes and misdemeanors”, what would?

Argument against the motion: Impeachment is ultimately a question of whether a president violated the public trust. But there’s nothing in the Constitution that says a president must be impeached for violating the public trust. Absent new facts, the GOP-controlled Senate will not remove Trump. The president would claim “exoneration,” and his behavior would become normalized for future presidents. And what we’ll have in the meantime is endless months of political theater that will energize the Republican base and demoralize the Democrats. There will be an election next year. If Trump has indeed lost the public’s trust, then he will also lose their vote. And be out of office in less time than it will take to impeach him.

So what do you think? Has Trump finally crossed the line? Or is the move to impeach primarily a political ploy designed to hurt his chance of being reelected? Join us at the next SFDebate to explore and debate these and other questions. Note that $5 will be charged at the door for all attendees (to offset room rental costs).

Links for additional reading in Comments.