Conservative students respond to impeachment trial

Wednesday, February 12, 2020 - 4:25pm

President Donald Trump speaks at campaign event in Battle Creek, Mich.

President Donald Trump speaks at campaign event in Battle Creek, Mich. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Dominick Sokotoff

The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has generated much debate across the political spectrum. The Daily spoke with several conservative students about their viewpoints on impeachment. 

On Jan. 15, 2019, the House of Representatives filed two impeachment articles against Trump, accusing him of abusing his power as president and obstructing Congress. In the following two weeks, U.S. senators filled the chamber to conduct an impeachment trial against Trump, ultimately voting to acquit the president of all charges. The vote was along party lines, with the exception of Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who voted that the president should be charged with one of the two counts. 

The filing of the two articles came after a whistleblower in the White House filed a complaint on Aug. 12 to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, claiming the president used his position to get a foreign country to meddle in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. In a phone call, Trump allegedly asked the president of Ukraine to investigate disproven corruption allegations against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. 

Austin McIntosh, Michigan campus correspondent for Campus Reform and LSA senior, said the president did no wrongdoing and therefore should not have been impeached at all. 

“When I read the transcript, I didn’t see any (wrongdoings),” McIntosh said. “I would say (Trump) didn’t (commit any crimes). (Trump) didn’t even begin to ask about (looking into Biden), what he did tell him about was ‘Look, we found out that there seems to be some corruption going on. It’s your administrators or your advisers, and I think you need to find the root of that.’ I don't think Donald Trump saying ‘Hey, there’s corruption in your government, figure it out,’ I don’t think that's so bad or anything.’”

Nicholas Schuler, freshman chair of College Republicans and LSA freshman, said though Trump did have a phone call with the Ukrainian president, he believes there was nothing said that would be worthy of impeachment. 

This is a view supported by many within the Republican party. Though one in three Republicans believe that Trump may have done something wrong, 86 percent believe he was not deserving of removal from office.  

“So we know that he had a phone call with the Ukrainian president, and we also know that aid was later cut to Ukraine,” Schuler said. “I think anything in between that we don’t know. There was no explicit wrongdoing by the president and certainly not something impeachable.”

Lincoln Ballew, president of Young Americans for Freedom and LSA junior, said she believes the impeachment trial isn’t a pressing issue for many Americans.

“I don’t think very many people care about it or pay attention because it’s really complicated and there hasn’t been very much transparency with the issue,” Ballew said. “It’s been really hard for the public to follow what’s been going on, so I don’t think many people care.”

Voters in Michigan are divided over their thoughts on impeachment. Michigan is a key battleground state in the 2020 election, and a state Trump won in 2016. Trump has made two campaign visits to the state since January 2019, and Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to make an appearance in Troy at the end of the month.

Another common argument voiced by those who spoke with The Daily was that the process of impeachment should be fundamentally non-partisan and should remain based on the facts. McIntosh also said senators should use their voting power to reflect how their constituents feel about impeaching the president. 

“There’s congressmen or senators who feel like they shouldn’t be afraid of the backlash from the right — you're supposed to represent your people,” McIntosh said. “You should represent your base, and if a certain base feels a certain way on the president, that’s how you should vote.” 

Since the conclusion of impeachment, many have speculated about how the impeachment trial will affect the 2020 election. LSA junior Caroline Martin, vice president of outreach for WeListen, said she believes the impeachment trial did not have much effect on the 2020 election. 

“I think the impeachment proceedings are timed very well,” Martin said. “I don't necessarily know if they would have impacted my personal view of this particular president because your opinions of him before, whether or not you agree with him or disagree with him, wouldn’t change as much after hearing some of the evidence; you would be more inclined to stick with what you already believe.”

Regina Egan, communications director of College Democrats, also wrote in a message to The Daily that the organization believes the impeachment trial shows voters in the 2020 election that the Democrats are steadfast in their commitment to the truth. 

“In fact, (the impeachment trial) shows that Democrats value the integrity of a trial and are willing to deliver on their fundamental responsibility to the American people, the majority of whom wanted witnesses,” Egan wrote. “What voters will remember in November is the Democrats’ pursuit of truth and a fair trial.”

Daily staff reporter Julia Forrest can be reached at juforrest@umich.edu.