Based on current evidence, it is apparent that the President engaged in a corrupt quid pro quo. Within this quid-pro-quo, the White House withheld from the Ukranian government $400M of vital military aid and a diplomatic visit until they agreed to announce investigations into President Trump’s chief political rival former Vice President Joe Biden and CrowdStrike—an American tech company that conspiracy theorists allege interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Ukraine and the DNC.
The Trump Administration has openly admitted the quid pro quo took place and Trump’s Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney infamously said the American people should “get over it.” It is true that a quid-pro-quo is not in itself impeachable. International exchanges of favors are a common feature of pressure-based foreign policy, part of America’s standard diplomatic toolbox. The important questions, instead are these: was the exchange within the quid-pro-quo legitimate and did Trump have the national interest in mind?
Regarding the latter of those two questions—if Trump had the national interest in mind—not a single action the President suggests his policy was anything but a political ploy. To begin, the idea to investigate Joe Biden came not from anyone in law enforcement or in the foreign service but rather from private citizen Rudy Giuliani. Upon learning the Biden theory from Giuliani, Trump did not alert anyone in intelligence or law enforcement communities to begin formal investigations but instead instructed Ambassador Sondland to pressure Ukrainian President Zelensky to appear on CNN and announce investigations into Biden and CrowdStrike. In Amb. Sondland’s own words, he “never heard…anyone say that the investigations had to start or be completed.”
Trump’s actions do not suggest that he was concerned with corruption or American national interests. Corruption was not mentioned a single time in the July 25th phone call between Trump and Zelensky. If these investigations were so important to American national interests, why did the President not care if the investigations were completed? Why would a President supposedly concerned about America’s national interest withhold vital military aid to a strategic ally? Based on the evidence, the only logical answer to these questions is that the President wanted to leverage a foreign government into spreading dirt on Joe Biden and the DNC. It was never about benefiting America; it was always about making Biden and the DNC look bad for 2020.
A common misconception regarding impeachment is the standard of proof required to remove the President. The Constitution provides no standard of proof to be convicted of high crimes or misdemeanors, so it is up to individual members of Congress to decide. Many recommend proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard of proof required for criminal convictions. However, Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 65 that impeachable offenses constitute, “the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” Thus, impeachment is a political, not criminal affair, and so the standard of proof should not be as high as a criminal trial.
Instead, a preponderance of evidence points to the following conclusions: 1. The President engaged in a quid pro quo with the Ukrainian government. 2. The intent of the quid pro quo was political in nature. With that being said, why should conservatives support the impeachment and/or removal of a Republican President that has secured key conservative policy goals others will not?
The simple answer is that Trump’s actions in the quid-pro-quo with Ukraine have exposed that he not only abused his office to benefit himself politically but have revealed that he is fundamentally hurting the interests of our country and the conservative movement.
If conservatives turn a blind eye to the illegitimate actions of a Republican President, they have to keep their eyes closed when a Democrat does the same. When President Obama asked Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to be less troublesome before the 2012 elections because Obama would have “more flexibility” if reelected, conservatives seized on the exchange—an example of personal political priorities taking precedence over American national security interests. Obama’s quid-pro-quo with Medvedev was illegitimate and to some, an impeachable offense. Conservatives should be as outraged at the fact that Trump’s quid-pro-quo with Ukraine was designed to benefit him, not the country. Both constitute gross abuses of Presidential power. Conservatives fight to restrain the executive branch from abusing its constitutionally delegated powers. Can conservatives that do not support Congress impeaching Trump for his abuse of power really claim to stand for a system of checks and balances?
This functionally greenlights future abuses of power. Imagine a future president Warren holds up $500m of foreign aid to Israel. When pressed as to why she did such a bizarre thing without notice to the intelligence community or foreign service, she denies she did anything improper. A transcript is released sometime later that shows President Warren pressing the PM of Israel to investigate the Republican leading the polls in the 2028 Republican Presidential Primary. President Warren hints to the Israeli PM that the aid will not be released until he goes on CNN to talk about what the Republican did that warranted an investigation. President Warren tells her personal attorney and a top ambassador that she doesn’t care if the investigations are completed, only announced. Conservatives would not stand by and let a future President’s abuse of power stand and shouldn’t leave Trump unchecked.
It is a moral imperative that conservatives, dedicated to America’s national defense interests and the preservation of a restrained executive branch, should vote to impeach President Donald J. Trump.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.