On Dec. 18, 2019, the United States House of Representatives impeached a president for only the third time in our country’s history. The articles of impeachment detail President Donald Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction of Congress as the justification for sending him to face trial in the Senate, starting this week.
Trump is accused by congressional Democrats of withholding military aid to Ukraine last July, in hopes of an investigation being launched into Hunter Biden. Hunter, the son of former vice-president and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, had been under scrutiny for his handsomely paid role on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma while his father was in office in 2014. This was quite clearly an attempt on Trump’s part to try and damage Biden, who “pundits” describe as Trump’s biggest obstacle to a second term.
Now, this may come as a shock, but this is not the first scandal Trump has found himself embroiled in during his presidency; many consider him to be the most corrupt president in modern history. The dizzying pace of corruption flowing out of the White House has made it largely impossible to give sufficient attention to the children locked in cages at the southern border lacking proper sanitary products and fundamental human rights, nor to the billions of dollars worth of weapons deals made with Saudi Arabia that have, and will continue to aid in the slaughter and untold suffering of thousands of innocent civilians in Yemen. Perhaps even more important than what the articles of impeachment addressed is what they chose to ignore.
Sure, we expressed dismay in the summer of 2018 when it was realized that the Trump administration had been enforcing a “zero tolerance” family separation policy on our border. During its implementation, thousands of children were split from their parents. It was later admitted by an official that “the government only had enough information to reconnect 60 parents with their kids.” But, as many everyday Americans live paycheck to paycheck, struggling to afford their healthcare, make a living wage and crawl out of crippling debt, this scandal, too, faded from our collective memory.
These intentional and heinous offenses just begin to scratch the surface. To name only a few others on the ever-growing list, Trump shows blatant disregard for the requirement of congressional authorization in order to go to war, constantly violates the Constitution’s emoluments clause and continuously fans the flames of white supremacy. However, while it does make sense that the aforementioned abuses would never be included among a list of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” there is no excuse for failing to address the way in which Trump has harmed humanity the most.
Our country has a longstanding policy of preaching restraint when the interests of anyone outside the elite’s clique are at stake. While Trump has been largely wrecking havoc since his first day in office, he is not the root of the cause, but rather a symptom. Reviewing problematic components of prior administrations can help illustrate how Trump’s impeachment offenses are only the top layer of a much deeper iceberg.
Take, for example, the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq. Former National Coordinator for Security and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke said “It’s clear that some of the things [Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld] did were war crimes.” These comments do not even touch on the “enhanced interrogation” practices—torture—that took place at black sites all around the globe. And while the Obama administration said such practices ended, Trump has not concealed his inclination to torture.
In a 2008 interview on CNN, even Trump questioned why Bush was never impeached, saying, “And yet Bush got us into this horrible war with lies. By lying. By saying they had weapons of mass destruction. By saying all sorts of things that turned out not to be true.”
But it seemingly doesn’t matter. What else besides brown lives could be sacrificed for the appetite of the military industrial complex?
The Obama administration has a similarly impressive record with escaping scrutiny for some questionable actions and policies. Edward Snowden’s disclosures in 2013 revealed that abuses such as the bulk collection of American citizens’ phone records were occurring daily. There was never Ukraine scandal-level scrutiny for Obama’s secret drone war. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates Obama was responsible for between 384 and 807 civilian deaths between Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, including the targeted assassination of a U.S. citizen.
Even a quick glance at recent history is indicative that Donald Trump is not being impeached, because we have somehow decided not to hold those in power accountable for sins that continue to destroy countless families, dreams and lives. We are seeing steps taken by a plutocracy to protect their fellow plutocrat. This must be the case because otherwise it would tell us right there at the top of the articles of impeachment.