Should Trump be impeached and removed from office? Here are four questions to ask. Their answers lead to only one conclusion.
Question 1: Did Trump ask the President to Ukraine to launch an investigation of Biden and his son?
If not, then there is no impeachable offense since what is charged did not happen.
What We Know: According to the summary of the phone call Trump did ask for the investigation.
Question 2: Why did Trump ask Ukraine to investigate the Bidens?
If the request was made because Trump was primarily concerned that the money the U.S. gave to Ukraine might be mis-used because of widespread corruption in Ukraine, then the request may well have been legitimate as a request in the national interest. If on the other hand, the request was made because Trump wanted Ukraine to undertake an investigation that might be harmful to a political opponent, then the request would be evidence of the use of powers of the office of the Presidency for personal and/or political gain. That is impeachable as a violation of oath of office and the public trust.
What We Know: There is no evidence that the Trump administration was concerned about corruption in Ukraine prior to the time it became obvious that Biden would be a major challenger to Trump in 2020. The Trump administration had not raised objections before Congress or publicly about funds being given to Ukraine due to possible corruption. Supporters of Trump, particularly by Rudy Giuliani, were trying to use Ukraine to get political dirt on Biden that would be helpful if Biden ran against Trump. Trump knew about this effort and promoted it. Giuliani urged Trump to use the influence of the Presidency and the threat of withholding funds from Ukraine to get Ukraine to launch an investigation into the Bidens or at least announce they were doing so.
Question 3: Was there a Quid Pro Quo?
While a Quid Pro Quo is NOT necessary to show that Trump abused the powers of the Presidency, it would be much more damning for Trump if he threatened Ukraine with some penalty if they failed to comply with his request that they investigate Biden.
What We Know: Trump refused to release millions of dollars of funds Congress had approved for Ukraine for a number of months without any public explanation of why the funds were not being released. In the telephone conversation with the President of Ukraine, Trump asked for a favor immediately after reminding the President of Ukraine of the support the U.S. had provided Ukraine in the past. According to sworn testimony from individuals who had reason to know, members of the administration told Ukraine representatives that an invitation for the Ukraine President to visit the White House and future funding depended upon Ukraine’s compliance with Trump’s request for dirt on Biden. This demand would constitute a Quid Pro Quo—Either you comply with Trump’s request or you will not be getting the invitation or the funds.
Question 4: Has Trump committed an impeachable offense?
Article II, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution says:
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.
Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution says: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.
Treason as defined in the Constitution does not apply in this case.
The U.S. Constitution does not define the terms “bribery” or “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Under U.S. Law, Bribery refers to the offering, giving, soliciting, or receiving of any item of value as a means of influencing the actions of an individual holding a public or legal duty. Proof of bribery under the law requires the demonstration of a quid pro quo. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/bribery
In Federalist Paper 65, Alexander Hamilton, said high crimes and misdemeanors involved "offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust." Similarly, during the Nixon impeachment, the House Judiciary Committee staff said the phrase historically and as understood by the framers of the Constitution meant offenses like "misapplication of funds, abuse of official power, neglect of duty, encroachment on Parliament’s prerogatives, corruption, and betrayal of trust.”
President Gerald Ford, said: "An impeachable offence is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history."
What We Know: When Trump asked the President of Ukraine the favor of investigating Biden, he solicited a bribe since dirt on a political opponent would constitute “something of value.” While under the law, a charge of bribery would have to be supported by a quid pro quo, that does not apply to impeachment. Impeachment is not a criminal proceeding since the only penalty possible is removal from office. The strict rules of evidence of criminal law do not apply in an impeachment. However, as I noted, there is evidence that Trump did engage in a quid pro quo by making the release of funds and an invitation to the White House conditional on Ukraine investigating Biden. Trump is guilty of bribery.
In addition to soliciting a bribe, Trump engaged in behavior that was a violation of the public trust and abuse of official power when he used the power of the Presidency to obtain dirt on an opponent that would benefit him personally and politically.
Bottom Line: The facts are not in dispute. Trump solicited a bribe from Ukraine. Additionally, violated the public trust by using the power of the Presidency for his personal gain. He committed bribery and at least one high crime or misdemeanor. TRUMP MUST BE IMPEACHED AND REMOVED FROM OFFICE.
Sources of Additional Information: