Not too long ago, Americans were glued to their devices listening intently to the impeachment inquiry from the House of Representatives. Since then, we have anxiously anticipated a declaration of war and followed more presidential campaigns. What has escalated between now and then? Here is a quick summary of what’s been happening lately.
The Iranian crisis kept Americans at the edges of their seats when the country was left clueless on the next steps towards Iran. To summarize the situation, Iranian General Qasem Soleimani was killed in Baghdad after an American airstrike just after the new year. Soleimani was second in command in Iran and was the leader of Iran’s Qud Forces, which was demonstrated when Iranians deeply mourned for him.
Trump claims the strike was in response to an alleged plotting of an attack against multiple US diplomats and service members. However, the issues with Iran run deeper than the recent death or the Iranian general.
Prior to Soleimani’s death, the US struck an Iranian militia on December 29, 2019. The same militia was accused of “killing an American military contractor and attacking U.S. bases in Iraq 11 times in the last two months” (Sharemylesson “Conflict Study Guide: General Qassem Soleimani Killed by US Strike”). Years before that in 2015, Iran and the US signed an agreement stating that they would not use any nuclear weapons. In 2018, Trump withdrew from the deal, and just recently Iran announced it won’t follow the 2015 nuclear deal either. But the general’s death sparked growing tensions between the nations.
Protests in Iran and the US have occurred as a result of Trump’s decisions pertaining to Iran. A population of Americans have expressed their concerns with the president’s choices, which coincide with a large portion of Democrats in DC. They feel the president is endangering our country unnecessarily. Per the usual contrast, the Republicans are defending Trump, claiming this action was essential to defending our country.
All of this conflict impacted Iraq in addition to the US and Iran. There are 5,000 US soldiers stationed in Iraq until they pay off the money the US loaned them for an airbase. On January 8, 2020, Iran launched about sixteen missiles to Al-Assad and Irbil, two US military bases in Iraq at approximately 5:30 pm ET. Although there do not appear to be any Iraqi casualties, it is obviously still surrounded by tension.
Just before the hit, Trump announced a prominent decision that Iran “WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD” if they attack the US. In addition, Trump threatened to attack 52 Iranian “sites” of importance to Iran. Despite this threat, it appears as if the situation is dwindling. At one point, Congress was debating whether to vote on the Articles of War but opted against it.
As a result, there was a wide variety of emotions. Some people did not take the situation seriously, and others became extremely worried. There has been quite a bit of time since the last interaction with Iran, indicating the conflict has settled for the time being.
Senior Alex Badger shared his opinions regarding the situation, “Modern war kind of scares me…I think we just need to be much more cautious with our foreign militia so stuff like this doesn’t happen because it could easily escalate.”
Adam Dapolite, another senior at WHS commented, “I think it’s telling that both the Obama and Bush administrations chose not to assassinate this general.”
As most of America is now aware, on December 18, 2019, at approximately 8:30 pm ET, the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, was impeached.
This was a decision that was reached through much deliberation in the House of Representatives. There were open and closed-door testimonies, as well as statements provided by Americans who did not testify, reports that provided more information regarding the charges and evidence, and finally the roll call that finalized the affair.
Trump was impeached based on two articles of impeachment: High Crimes and Misdemeanors and Obstruction of Congress. The impeachment was a monumental event in American history.
Dapolite says, “This was one of the largest events to happen in my lifetime for certain.”
He also adds Trump’s actions were “a blatant misuse of power…[The impeachment] was what the founders wanted when writing the constitution; to prevent actions like this.”
So what does this all mean?
This makes Trump only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. Now, the case has been moved to the Senate for a trial, which began January 22, 2020. The honorable Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over the trial while the Senate quarrels over Trump’s potential removal from office. Despite House Manager Adam Schiff’s efforts to persuade the moderate Republicans, the expectations of Trump’s removal from office are low considering the 53 Republicans to 45 Democrats to 2 independents in the Senate. Since the Republicans have the majority, and ⅔ of the Senate is needed in order to impeach a president, it is unlikely that Republicans will vote against their party.
In addition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already admitted to collaborating with the White House Counsel, which is equivalent to having the defendant work with a juror in a more traditional courtroom setting. McConnell blatantly stated that he would not be a fair juror. While this may seem unjust, the Senate creates the rules that will be followed during the trial. Surprisingly, McConnell allowed three days of arguments per side, for a total of 48 hours. He also admitted all evidence from the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry, including the over 4,000 pages of witness testimony. The question of adding new witnesses remains undecided and will be voted on sometime next week.
WHS Social Studies teacher Mr. Teevens added to this topic when he said, ”I worry long term about the consequences of a president defying congressional subpoenas because again in the future, whether it’s President Trump or someone else, the executive branch should not have that ability.”
Teevens is referencing time during the impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives when Trump blocked key witnesses from testifying as requested by the House Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committee.
Then there has been the power struggle between Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and McConnell arguing over whether to send the Articles of Impeachment over to the Senate. In hopes of forcing a fair trial in the Senate, Pelosi withheld the Articles. McConnell threatened to carry out the trial without them, but that would possibly deem the trial invalid. Eventually, Pelosi gave in. The Articles were signed over on January 15, 2020, and were formally accepted by the Senate a few days later.
The question still remains: will the Senate Impeachment trial be a fair one? Both Dapolite and Badger define a fair trial as exposing all of the relevant information. Badger confidently says there will not be a fair trial because all of the facts will not be exposed. He believes this is largely due to the party lines in the Senate. A bit more optimistic, Dapolite still holds a glimmer of hope that the Senators will fulfill their democratic oath by voting for what they believe is the truth. Additional witnesses, or lack thereof, are what will truly determine whether this is a fair trial or not.
Another lingering question amongst Americans of all parties is whether the impeachment of Donald Trump and possible removal from office will have any bearing on the current election?
Badger commented on this concept saying, “I think it is going to be closer than people think. I don’t think impeachment is going to affect it as much as people think. I think if anything he might get a boost from the impeachment…He’s manipulative with the media and it’s worked for him.”
Thus far, there have been many commercials for the candidates, candidates have dropped out from lack of funding for their campaigns, and others have done a better job of getting high numbers to make sure they are eligible to participate in the debates that have been broadcasted. Here is the list of candidates that are running as of now:
Michael Bennet (D), Joe Biden (D), Michael Bloomberg (D), Pete Buttigieg (D), John Delaney (D), Tulsi Gabbard (D), Amy Klobuchar (D), Deval Patrick (D), Bernie Sanders (D), Tom Steyer (D), Elizabeth Warren (D), Andrew Yang (D), and Donald Trump (R).
With the wide variety of Democrats running, it is difficult to foresee who Trump will run against. Then again, if Trump is not acquitted, he won’t be running. So between the impeachment trial in the Senate and the unknown Democratic nominee, the 2020 election is anyone’s game.