When the House of Representatives began holding hearings into the conduct of President Donald J. Trump regarding a potential quid pro quo demand with the Ukrainian government, I already knew that the president’s actions were inappropriate. What I didn’t know was whether or not they were impeachable.
I have watched hours of testimony during both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committee hearings, and I have come to the conclusion, with great regret, that Trump should be impeached and, if I were in Congress, I would vote to impeach on both the abuse of power and obstruction charges.
The impeachment charges stem from Trump undertaking actions that placed an ally at risk while seeking to score political points against his potential rival in the 2020 election. This was done by the president secretly withholding congressionally allocated funds to Ukraine, as well as a formal meeting with the new Ukrainian president, in return for President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly announcing an investigation into the actions of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
The president bypassed official diplomatic channels and instead used his personal lawyer, who was never confirmed by the Senate, to communicate and coordinate his demands with Ukrainian officials. The president then proceeded to cover his actions by claiming he was acting to root out corruption and to resolve issues that are actually long-debunked conspiracy theories. When his actions were reported by a whistleblower, the president compounded his transgressions by stonewalling, withholding evidence, and preventing eyewitness administration officials from testifying before Congress.
The president’s defenders have suggested that the motivation behind all of these actions was a sincere concern over possible Ukrainian corruption. This isn’t a valid argument. Other aid had been given to the Ukrainians in 2017 and 2018 and it wasn’t until the run-up to the election — with Biden appearing to be a formidable opponent — that this “fear of corruption” was expressed.
There are those who argue that the president’s actions should be judged not by legislators, but only by voters at the ballot box. This is not what the framers of the Constitution intended. They explicitly gave responsibility for presidential oversight to the Congress, even though they knew that the power of impeachment could be used as a political maneuver and be abused. They felt it was important to have this powerful check available. It is a duty that should be rarely undertaken, but when required, needs to be taken seriously.
Despite fears that impeachment will divide the country, the reality is that the country is already divided. The for/against on impeachment runs close to 50-50 in virtually every poll. A vote either direction will upset half of the nation. Fear of unpopularity cannot and should not govern our political leaders.
Rising to meet the challenge of our time by voting according to principle needs to be the guiding star for those elected as representatives. When blatant abuse of power is wielded by the president of the United States, those in the position to speak up need to do so. It is their solemn responsibility.
Jonia Broderick is running for the Utah 4th Congressional District nomination of the United Utah Party in 2020