Consternation swirls amid confusion and accusation regarding the congressional investigation in the House of Representatives leading up to an impeachment trial for President Donald Trump.
The presidency is a co-equal branch of the federal government with Congress and the Supreme Court. Checks and balances are at work deciphering whether Trump committed an act that rises to the level indicative of impeachment.
The Constitution defines reasons for impeachment limited to “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The impeachment process is initiated in the House. If the House finds the president committed grounds for impeachment, the Senate holds a trial to confirm impeachment is warranted.
At issue is a July 25 phone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky. In the conversation Trump asked Zelensky to investigate his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden’s business transactions with Burisma Holdings, which owns energy production companies in Ukraine.
House Democrats are focusing on the redacted text of the phone call released by the White House.
Ukranian President Zelensky:
“I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps — specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.”
Trump replied, “I would like you to do us a favor though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike …”
CrowdStrike had been under contract with the Democratic National Committee to investigate a hack of its servers made by the Russian government, according to the Mueller Report.
Further in the conversation Trump says, “The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.”
In October a random group of local residents were asked if the impeachment process against President Donald Trump was proceeding appropriately.
PULSE OF VOTERS
As an ongoing project of The Edmond Sun, we asked several local residents their thoughts on the following: Should the president of the United States ask Ukraine and later China on national TV to investigate his political rival for the 2020 presidential election?
“No I don’t, but I don’t believe that he did that. I’m just not convinced that he asked them to do that,” said Jerry Nance, 76, independent.
Nance said he followed news reports concerning Trump urging Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Biden and Biden’s son. But he did not see the televised footage of Trump asking China to investigate Biden and his son.
“He might have said it. If he did, I didn’t see it,” Nance said. “I can’t believe that he would actually do that. A lot of times, Mr. Trump is kind of a — what do you call it — I guess a somewhat of a scoundrel so to speak.”
Nance said Trump purposefully says things to try to deliberately irritate people.
“In other words, he likes to joke around a lot. And sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between when he’s joking and when he’s telling the truth, and he feeds on the media frenzy. And when they ask him stuff, he’ll say stuff like that when actually it’s not true.
“It’s like CNN or whatever interviewing him, now asking him if he asked China to do it. He might say he did, but he was just jokingly saying that. He’s not really meaningful when he says that.”
When asked about the impact such “a joke” by Trump would have on the United States, Nance said that would be a whole different situation from anything a president has done in the past. The U.S. has never had a president like Trump, he said.
“He’s got his own mind and he speaks his mind, whereas a lot of presidents in the past have (kept) quiet about certain things and didn’t come out forward with what they actually think. And he will say what he actually thinks.
“And so you just have to kind of put a grain of salt with whatever he says. Trump is one of a kind.”
Republican Jeff Ensz, 69, knows of no reason why this impeachment process should continue. Trump has brought positive change to America, he said.
“I don’t agree with everything President Trump does, but I don’t think anybody agrees with everything anybody does,” Ensz said.
Ensz had no comment when asked if it was appropriate for Trump to ask China to investigate Biden and his son before televised media outlets.
Republican party member Charles Epperson, 78, said its Trump’s job to converse with leaders of other countries. Biden is running for president, so the answer to the Biden inquiry could have a lot of bearing on the election, Epperson said.
“And I just think that was one way to kind of knock it in the head. And there will always be you know discussions on some things like that. I believe he did all right calling over there and sending Giuliani. Yeah, I think that was a good idea, too,” Epperson said.
Independent voter Kevin Goodin, 33, said he is well-informed of the impeachment proceedings. Nobody agrees that Trump deserves impeachment, he said.
“I know what Trump’s done, but this is what I’m going to tell you — find me a perfect person. When I ask people that, I get that response. You know why? Because there is no perfect person. We are all sinners,” Goodin said.
The impeachment is an affront against the American people in regards to electing a president, said Houston Hill, 67. The Democrat said his political party and the news media always try to undermine Trump’s policies. Trump has improved the U.S. militarily and financially, he said.
“Politically, it has raised the whole psyche of America in terms of patriotism and pride in your work, and a love of God and country,” Hill said. “I think it’s self-evident that the hand of God is on Trump, and what he’s trying to accomplish.
Democrats are a bunch of liars and Satan is the father of all lies, Hill added. Hill said he gets his news from Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartaroma.
“I just thank God for these people who are reporting the truth, and reporting different sides of these issues. And I like seeing what’s going on. And I like depending on them because CNN is really Clinton news network. CNN is the communist news network,” Hill said. “Such traitors to our country — our great country. And they’re selling us down the river. And that’s what I think.
“CNN is a communist network and CNN is a Clinton network. And Hillary knows no shame. What she has perpetrated on the American people — it’s such a hoax. And how much damage it’s done to our country is irreparable.”
Independent Jared Kiefer, 22, said he examines the aisles of Democrats and Republicans evenly when determining his stance on issues. Both political parties are extreme at the moment, he said.
“I don’t really know where I stand on the issue just simply because there’s been talk about impeachment for the last three years that he’s been in office and nothing has really come to it,” Kiefer said.
He understands both sides of whether Trump should be impeached, he said. Given the Republican majority in the Senate, Keifer does not believe Republicans would support impeachment.
“So I think it’s kind of wild that he’s asking foreign governments,” Kiefer noted. “But at the same time, I think our own government has kind of failed in trying to provide solid evidence. So I don’t really know where I stand on it. I’d have to do more research.”
Kiefer said it’s been hard for him to keep up with the House impeachment investigation proceedings.
“I do think it is kind of weird that he is asking foreign governments, and not trusting our own,” he said. “That’s kind of — I wouldn’t say scary. But that’s a little odd not asking our own government to try and figure it out.”
Democrat Ann Hamissou, 37, said it’s wrong for other countries to be involved in the country’s political process. Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky adds another reason why she will not support Trump’s re-election effort in 2020.
“All of his actions have helped me with this decision,” Hamissou said.
She explained she is particularly bothered by Trump’s arrogance, his treatment of women and different races, and how his lack of leadership reflects on the U.S.
“It’s embarrassing to see,” Hamissou said.
Sen. James Lankford, Republican of Edmond, released his own opinion of the House investigation.
“If House Democrats are as serious about impeachment as they’re acting, they should apply an equal level of gravity to the process they think is so important,” Lankford said. “Speaker Pelosi couldn’t even wait for the whistleblower report before calling for an official impeachment inquiry. House Democrats have spent days questioning witnesses behind closed doors and then telling the American people the things they should know in a 30-second soundbite. Why don’t they trust the American people to make their own conclusions based on the facts? If the Democrats in the House wish to continue down this path, it needs to be pursued in a transparent fashion worthy of the Constitution and intelligence of the American people.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: For the full redacted text of the White House-released phone conversation between between Trump and Ukranian President Zelensky, go to https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6429020-Ukraine-Transcript.html#document/p2/a526698.)