“No one is above the law.”
Those were the words of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, as she announced on Sept. 24 that the United States’ House of Representatives would begin a formal impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump, president of the United States.
In this case, an “impeachment inquiry” is an investigation to find out whether there is enough evidence to “impeach” the president.
Impeachment means charging someone (typically a political leader) with a serious crime–for instance, against the country. If convicted of the crime, they would likely be removed from their job.
Pelosi said Trump used his power as president of the United States for “personal gain.” In other words, to get something he wanted. If that’s true, it would be illegal.
Donald Trump denies having done anything that would cause him to be impeached.
Trump is accused of trying to win the upcoming 2020 election by finding out some bad things about his opponent–in this case, Joe Biden (former vice-president of the United States, and who may also run against Trump in 2020).
Pelosi said that last July, Trump asked the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Joe Biden and his son. In a phone call, Trump was overheard to ask Zelensky for “a favour.”
Someone overheard that phone call and “blew the whistle” on Trump. In this case, “blew the whistle” means the person complained to someone about what he’d overheard, and made it public. That person, who has not been identified publicly, is known as a “whistle blower.”
The White House released notes detailing the call Trump had with the president of Ukraine. (See links, below.)
Because an impeachment inquiry is an investigation, it allows the House of Representatives to look through some documents they may not otherwise have access to.
Note: This is “breaking news,” which means that there will be much more information coming out about this situation in the coming weeks and months.
THINKING AND DISCUSSION PROMPTS
1. The United States Constitution (a document written in 1787 that sets out the way the US government and laws work). It is known as the “supreme law” of the United States. In Section 4, it says that a president may removed from office if they are convicted for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The Chief Justice of the United States decides whether a president has committed a “high crime” such as treason. Do you think that what Donald Trump is accused of doing would be a “high crime” worthy of removal from office (if he was found guilty)?
“The President, Vice-President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” – US Constitution
2. The term “whistle blower” can be traced back to police officers in the 1800s who would blow a whistle to alert other officers to a dangerous situation. In sports, referees are also “whistle blowers.” Think about how the term is used in this article. How does this term apply?
3. Depending on your point of view or bias–for instance, whether you like or dislike Donald Trump–you may have a different opinion about whether he is likely to be impeached. What is your opinion and what is your bias? (It is helpful to note that the bias of Teaching Kids News is more to the left, politically, than Donald Trump and the Republicans.)
4. The photo that accompanies this article was taken on the day Donald Trump was sworn in as president of the United States, in 2017. He is posing for a photo with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who is a member of the Democrats (Trump is a Republican). Knowing what you know now about her accusations against Trump, what do you think was going through the minds of each of these two people back in 2017? What in the photo gives you that impression?
Notes detailing Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president:
The Washington Post article on how impeachment works:
Transcript of the US constitution:
The Atlantic: The Scandal Has Spiraled Out of Trump’s Control