Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — the leader of the U.S. House of Representatives — announced a formal impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump Sept. 19 following a Washington Post article that broke the news of a whistleblower complaint about interactions between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
An impeachment inquiry is the beginning of an investigation into a sitting president. The inquiry is the investigative portion of the impeachment process in which House committees will subpoena documents and witnesses in order to determine if the president committed “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” as stated in the Constitution.
During a call between the two leaders, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, son of former vice president and democratic primary frontrunner Joe Biden, for his interactions with Ukrainian businesses, according to the whistleblower complaint.
John Pelissero, a professor of American politics at Loyola, said he believes Congress had no other choice but to start the inquiry.
“In many ways, Congress’ hand has been forced to investigate the President for possible impeachment charges because of his own statements which were released in the transcript of the phone calls with the Ukrainian president,” Pelissero said.
College Democrats and College Republicans — two Loyola student organizations — didn’t respond to The Phoenix’s requests for comment.
Zachary Coe, a junior multimedia journalism major, said he agrees with Pelissero, but doesn’t believe the president will be removed from office.
“I feel like they kind of had to move forward with it because everything that came out was so severe and they have been talking about it for so long,” Coe, 20, said. “Realistically, it will never see the Senate floor because Mitch McConnell is never going to let that happen.”
Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, has been quiet on the matter since the inquiry began.
The Senate majority leader works in conjunction with ranking members and committee chairs to schedule what bills are debated on the floor of the Senate.
While the House continues its investigation, a White House lawyer, Pat Cippolone, sent a letter to House leaders stating the recent actions taken by the Democratic committee leaders violated “the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent,” and Trump and his administration “cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances.”
David Doherty, a professor of American politics at Loyola, said he believes Cippolone’s statement is wrong.
“That is just factually false,” Doherty said. “There is clear provision for this sort of procedure in the Constitution that is very explicitly spelled out.”
The process for impeachment is stated in Article I, Section 2; Article 1, Section 3; and Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution.
Despite the ongoing inquiry, Trump’s approval ratings have remained about the same with Fox News polls showing his approval at 43 percent and Politico polls showing 41 percent, meaning the inquiry has not had a large effect on his approval rating. However, the same polls show that support for Trump’s removal from office sits at 51 percent and 50 percent, respectively.
Doherty said he thinks the inquiry “should be electorally damaging.”
“It looks like many independent voters, in the polling data, are starting to suggest that they are fed up or that their perception of what [Trump’s] done is illegal,” Doherty said.
Morgan McAndrew, a first-year majoring in communication studies, said she thinks the investigation is long overdue, and said she fears what a failed investigation could mean for the 2020 election cycle.
“It’s disappointing that it has taken this long,” McAndrew, 19, said. “I hope that this changes some people’s opinions on him so we don’t have him for another four years. That’s scary, it’s four years. I don’t want to know what would happen to our country if he were president for another four years.”