Presidential Chess


by Bridget Petersen

Story by Gabriela Odisio and Milan


According to Article II, section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, “The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”


Throughout American history, only two of the 44 presidents elected since 1788 have been formally impeached, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, which prompts the question: will the current president’s name be added to this list?


Recently surfaced claims calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment seem to worry members of the Republican party. The particular proximity of the accusations to 2020 election adds even more stress to the situation, considering that the incumbent president’s reelection campaign had already been formally launched January of 2018 and such allegations may hurt his image.


On September 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, announced a formal impeachment inquiry bringing up an idea that has been highlighted throughout the Trump presidency. According to a CNN count,“there are at least 228 House Democratswho publicly stated support for impeachment proceedings.”


Such inquiry started after  whistleblowers came forward to the Congress and gave motive for an accusation of abuse of power. The two anonymous figures alleged that Trump and his fellow government officials have been taking part in a quid-pro-quo campaign, attempting to pressure foreign nations into favoring him in the presidential elections of 2020. 


The previously mentioned indictments set a spotlight to the diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Ukraine once the whistleblowers declared their first-hand knowledge of the contents of Trump’s call with Volodymyr Zelenski, the Ukranian president.


The implications of a possible impeachment could not be overstated. Its ripples across the central government or even the entire U.S will be felt thoroughly. 


According to the Whistleblower Complaint, “multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call informed me that, after an initial exchange of pleasantries, the President used the remainder of the call to advance his personal interests. Namely, he sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the President’s 2020 reelection bid.” 


Such allegation attained a solid foundation after the official transcript for Trump’s call with Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky was released, revealing the American president’s recommendation for an investigation to be launched against his main opponent and former vice-president of the United States, Joe Biden.


 “I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine,” said President Donald Trump. “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the persecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”


Trump’s advice to the Ukranian leader for the conduction of an investigation on Joe Biden has origins dating back to 2014, when his son, Hunter Biden, got involved with Burisma Holdings, one of Ukraine’s largest natural gas companies. 


According to Alan Apter, a former Morgan State investment banker and chairman of Burisma at the time, Hunter’s payment was “totally based on merit.” His primary role at the company during that time was to attend to energy forums and board meetings twice a year, for which he got paid more than $50,000 per month. By the end, Hunter Biden and his partner Devon Archer had earned a total of $3.4M for their “consulting services”.


Such story can be linked back to the then vice-president of the United States Joe Biden, now suspected of improperly using his international diplomatic influence to help his second eldest son.


However, according to Fox News, “the attorneys representing the whistleblower at the center of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry acknowledged in a statement Wednesday that their client ‘has come into contact with presidential candidates from both parties,’ but insisted the contact involved the politicians’ roles as elected officials – not as candidates.”


Considering such contact, a general concern that the whistleblower was politically motivated to make his particular accusations strengthens itself around the House.


Despite all allegations, Trump’s party seems united against impeachment discussions, as none of the 197 Republican representatives in the House endorsed such inquiries, which are being backed in entirety by the opposing party. However, members of the Democratic party do not seem as united over the cause, given that out of the 233 people representing their bloc, 2 of them voted against the formalization of the procedures for the impeachment inquiry.


President Trump seems confident about the process and continuously echoes his innocence in a plethora of interviews to different media sources.


“I think the Republicans have been amazing,” said Trump. “We had 195 or 196 to nothing. We have tremendous support from the Senate we have tremendous support from the House. We even had Democrats go over to the Republican side yesterday in the House because they said, ‘this is not impeachable.’ ”


Considering that immediately after Trump’s inauguration certain members of the Democratic Party such as Democratic Rep. Al Green of Texas already had the words presidential impeachment being brought up with a myriad of alternative attempts to remove the president from office throughout the last four years, Donald Trump shows himself prepared for one more round of this game.


According to the former speaker Newt Gingrich, an ally of the incumbent president, the ongoing impeachment inquiry shouldn’t worry Donald Trump. Gingrich predicts that Nancy Pelosi will have the same future as he did in 1998 when he led Bill Clinton’s impeachment inquiry, costing him his midterm reelections and consequently his speakership.


“This is the fight that traps the Democrats into an increasingly unpopular position — I lived through this in 1998 — while elevating the Biden case, which involves big money,” said Grinchic. “It is a win-win for Trump.”


With politics doing what it is best at and splitting sides with diverging points of view, eyes from all around the globe are turned to the U.S., awaiting to see what the next move in this intricate game of chess will be. While Republicans and Democrats clash and quarrel, the moment in which one of them falls is nearing, making Americans from all around the nation sit on the edge of their chairs and ask each other: President Trump, Checkmate? 


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