Senate to hear opening impeachment arguments

Some Temple students said while they support impeachment, the process is confusing.


Opening arguments in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump could start as early as Wednesday if an organizing resolution authored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is approved by the Senate today, the New York Times reported. 

Senators will first debate McConnell’s proposed rules and schedule for the trial, which stipulates that House impeachment managers and the president’s legal team will each have 24 hours over two days to make opening arguments, CNN reported. If the resolution passes, arguments will begin at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, according to the resolution. 

After the House voted to impeach Trump on Dec. 18, 2019, it sent the two articles of impeachment, which primarily concern Trump’s alleged misconduct involving Ukraine and the Bidens, to the Senate on Jan. 15, the Washington Post reported. Senators were sworn in as jurors in the trial on Jan. 16.

Several Temple students who spoke to The Temple News said while they support impeaching Trump, they view the process as confusing and unlikely to lead to his removal.

“I feel like it’s a lot of claims, which I don’t know how to judge,” said Courtney Hartwell, a sophomore health professions major. “The details are confusing. I don’t know if CNN or Fox is telling the truth. They’re at such ends of the spectrum.” 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initiated an impeachment inquiry into the president on Sept. 24, 2019, after a government whistle-blower revealed details of an alleged attempt by Trump to pressure Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president and 2020 presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter, the New York Times reported. 

Days before Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, Trump ordered his staff to freeze nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine, an action that Democrats have called “corrupt” and “a betrayal of the president’s oath of office,” the Times reported.

Trump and Republican allies in Congress have characterized the charges as false and politically motivated, the Times reported.

Claire Finkelstein, the director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, said that the charges against Trump have already been substantiated and that enough evidence exists to justify removing him.

“The witnesses in the House were completely clear,” said Finkelstein, who is also the Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy. “There was quid pro quo and the holding up of Ukraine aid. There is no doubt that Trump is obstructing Congress.”

Finkelstein said the facts of the inquiry were “technical and complicated” and that the witnesses who testified before the House were largely unknown.

“I never thought that the civil servants who were called, important as they were, would be likely to make the political impact to create a bipartisan movement for impeachment,” Finkelstein said. 

Several students also said they had not watched hearings related to the impeachment trial or did not know who the key witnesses were.

“Whatever accusations they’ve made stem from some type of evidence,” said Calesta Groff, a junior public health major. “I don’t know much about [Gordon Sondland] and [Alexander Vindman].”

Jacob Yu, a junior political science major, thinks choosing to impeach Trump over this issue is “silly.”

“I thought Trump’s ban on Muslims was a bigger deal,” Yu said, referring to the Trump administration’s 2017 ban on travel from six majority-Muslim countries. “Why do I care about military aid?” 

Samuel Allan-Chapkovski, a junior music performance major, said the evidence is strong enough to remove Trump regardless of partisanship.

“I think in this case it’s less a matter of opinion and much more about the fact that there is evidence of abuse of power,” Allan-Chapkovski said.

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