In the wake of a House inquiry, Political Union debates impeachment


Spencer Allan/The Daily Northwestern

Students at a Political Union meeting. The group voted in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump.

Spencer Allan, Reporter

Northwestern Political Union gathered Monday at 1902 Sheridan Rd. to debate whether the House of Congress should impeach President Donald Trump.

The debate comes in the wake of a whistleblower report detailing Trump’s phone call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25. The report said Trump denied military aid to Ukraine unless the country opened an investigation on the Biden family.

Speaking in favor of impeachment was Weinberg sophomore John Magloire, who argued that Trump, during his phone call with Zelensky and in a subsequent memo, had violated the public’s trust.

“This memo, released by the President himself, clearly demonstrates that President Trump asked the Ukranian President to open an investigation on his primary political opponent,” Magloire said. “Was there an explicit quid pro quo? No, but it was certainly implied.”

Dominic Bayer, a member of College Republicans, spoke out against impeachment. The Weinberg senior argued that while there was justification for an impeachment inquiry, there was no existing consensus that the president had committed an impeachable offense.

Bayer, referring to his blue pocket Constitution, suggested Trump had not committed a “high crime or misdemeanor,” which is defined in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment.

“Congress can’t just use impeachment to remove the president when he does something they don’t like,” Bayer said.

Bayer also argued impeachment would hurt Democrats’ chances in the 2020 elections, citing the difficulties Republicans had in gaining support for impeaching then-President Bill Clinton in 1998.

“Impeachment by the House at this moment, given what we know, is a bad idea,” Bayer said. “Rather than continue with an undemocratic and partisan attack on the presidency, Democrats should focus on winning back the hearts and minds of voters in 2020.”

Magloire responded with his doubts about Trump’s intentions in the Ukranian phone call.

“I am very skeptical of the claim that Trump was genuinely worried about corruption,” Magloire said. “If impeachment is partisan, so what? Some battles are worth fighting. A lack of consensus should not justify inaction.”

In the Q&A section of the debate, many students hovered between immediate impeachment and full acquittal, favoring further inquiries by the House before a vote.

“If anyone wants to impeach Trump, it shouldn’t be with glee or joy,” McCormick sophomore Ryan Abbott said. “We are annulling the results of an election, we have to treat it somberly.”

The discussion was especially topical for the group. Just a few days earlier across the street from the Political Union’s meeting place, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) had spoken to Northwestern students about the developing impeachment inquiry. Schiff, who is chairman of the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee, issued a subpoena for the whistleblower complaint in September.

At the end of the hour, 27 students voted for impeachment and 13 voted against.

Bayer also announced after the vote that Northwestern University College Republicans will host former United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Nov. 5.

The debate continued just a short stint down Chicago Avenue, where the Political Union reprised their weekly tradition of discourse over dinner in the Celtic Knot Public House following the debate. On the way to the Public House, often called “The Knot” by students, Political Union speaker Ian Odland discussed his takeaways from the evening.

“It went really well,” the McCormick senior said. “There are few locations on campus where people with different ideas can come together.”

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