OPINION: Trump should be getting worried


Ricky Barker, Columnist

It was an eventful couple of weeks for President Donald Trump to say the least. A rumor of wrongdoing has evolved into the greatest threat of his presidency, potentially leading to the end of his tenure in the White House.

It began Sept. 18, when the Washington Post broke the news that an intelligence official filed a whistleblower complaint, a reveal of secret information, relating to the president and a call with a foreign leader. This call occurred on July 25 between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

The news caught on like wildfire in the media, Democrats, and even some Republicans mining for more information by the day. Feeling the pressure, the president chose to release the a memorandum of the call, not a transcript, as it appeared to be based on informal recollection and not word-for-word recording of the conversation. Trump later released the original whistleblower complaint.

The whistleblower made several claims. First, they received multiple reports Trump solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election. During the phone call with Zelensky, “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.”

Second, multiple senior White House officials “intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call.”

Finally, the whistleblower alleged Ukrainian leaders were led to believe that their president could only speak to Trump if Zelensky was willing to “play ball.”

An edited memorandum of the call showed Trump did indeed ask for Zelensky to look into a political opponent. In the memorandum Trump said, “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.” 

This is specifically about a supposed deal Former Vice President Joe Biden made to stop his son from prosecution for wrongdoing while Hunter Biden worked for a Ukraine oil company. Prosecutors found no evidence of wrongdoing at the trial. 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Washington Post revealed that just a week before the call, Trump withheld $319 billion in aid to Ukraine. The president claimed this hold was a tactic to urge other European countries to provide more military funding.

This is clearly not a good look for Trump. Trump foolishly attempted to defend himself in a U.N. meeting with the Polish president: “I put no pressure on them whatsoever. I could have. I think it would probably, possibly have been OK if I did.”

It would not have been OK. In fact, everything about the call is not OK. Trump revealed he asked a foreign power to interfere with a national election, and not only that, he appears to have used intimidation. It’s an egregious act to use U.S. foreign policy power as a means to personal gain, that’s exactly what Trump did.

 It’s no accident senior White House officials attempted to hide the phone call. The minute they heard it, they knew it was a problem. The president, not long after railing against Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion, had jeopardized the sanctity of the national election and national security. 

After all this information came out, the impeachment calls grew louder to the breaking point. On Sept. 24 Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of The House of Representatives, announced an official impeachment inquiry. This begins the investigation that could lead to an impeachment trial in front of the Senate. 

What Pelosi did is not easy, especially not now and especially not for her party. Impeachment is not the greatest political move Democrats could make right now; frankly, it’s a pretty horrible one. Trump could get out unharmed and levy this event for all it’s worth in the 2020 election. But, constitutional duty comes ahead of partisanship.

Not beginning impeachment sets a precedent to foreign governments that interference national elections is fine, and U.S. leaders can bully them into doing it. We tolerate a lot of acts from this president, many that we wouldn’t accept from any other individual with this much political power. It’s not an overstatement to say Trump has already committed possibly impeachable acts. But this is unacceptable, the line is drawn here, and it’s time for Trump to face the possible end to his presidency.

This story is based on the information available to the public on Sept. 30. The volatile situation may have changed since original publishing.