House Votes to Impeach President Trump

Foreign policy differences loom large in lead-up to vote

On Wednesday, in a 230-197 vote, the House of Representatives impeached President Trump. This is now supposed to go to the Senate to potentially remove him from office, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has threatened to withhold the articles from the Senate.

Protracted efforts to impeach Trump over various different issues have been ongoing since Trump took office. Most recently, this centered on military aid to Ukraine and allegations that President Trump withheld that aid in trying to get Ukraine’s government to investigate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.

The Biden allegations were based heavily on second-hand and third-hand testimony from officials who thought something like that might be going on. Testimony within the House hearings, especially from legal scholars, looked to broaden this away from the Trump vs. Biden narrative, likely because there wasn’t great evidence that this actually happened.

It was at this point that they started emphasizing the withholding of military aid to Ukraine in and of itself as a possible impeachable offense, with Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan arguing that the US must provide deadly arms to Ukraine to fight Russia “so we don’t have to fight them over here.

This puts the impeachment on a flimsy proposition, that the US must arm Ukraine to fight Russia. There are plenty of policy arguments to be made against this, not the least of which being that other nations are trying to broker peace in Eastern Ukraine, the US sending deadly arms during that process undermines the effort.

And even then, historical precedent back to the Johnson impeachment has established that the House is not supposed to impeach a president merely over policy disagreements, and there is certainly no legal standard which obliges the president to arm Ukraine.

That’s certainly not the way the government has been treating Ukraine arms, either. President Obama was keen to aid Ukraine, but limited it to non-lethal aid. President Trump by contrast actually has been sending lethal aid to Ukraine, with an eye toward picking fights with Russia.

Ironically, the Senate was particularly critical of Trump during the time when Ukraine’s military aid was on hold, though it is generally accepted that even if Pelosi forwards the impeachment to them, the Senate will not remove him from power.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.