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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

Trump’s Halloween Themed Accusation of the Month: Witch Hunt!

7 November 2019
"Trump said to the president of Ukraine, 'I would like you to do us a favour'" - Politics editor Clare Morris raises questions concerning the impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump

October 31st is a day one expects to be tricked or to hear the word ‘witch’ thrown around inconsequentially – but not usually by the president of the United States on Twitter. “The Greatest Witch Hunt in American History!”, proclaimed Donald Trump midday on Halloween. If anyone could kindly give Trump a brief overview of the Salem witch trials or McCarthyism it would be much appreciated. If neither of those examples take, maybe referring back to his own behaviour during Barack Obama’s time as president regarding his birth certificate will jog his memory. If per chance he already knew of these events and tweeted a misleading comment knowing it to be false- that would be the greatest shock in American history. On the other hand, it may just be an addition to the 13,435 false claims made by Donald Trump since the beginning of his Presidency according to the Washington Post as of the 9th of October.

Regardless of Trump’s raved tweeting, the ‘Witch Hunt’ or simply put the inquisition into injustice (whatever you prefer to call it), is continuing forward. The impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump will take place due to a vote from the House of Representatives. This inquiry will further examine Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian president- Volodymyr Zelensky. This is an investigation over any abuse of presidential power including impeachable offenses such as Treason, Bribery or Corruption. On the one hand, Trump has deemed his phone call “perfect”- his adjective not mine. In defence of Trump’s call with Zelensky, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham pointed out that “the president has done nothing wrong, and the Democrats know it”. What the Democrats, and Republicans, and any person who has read the transcript of the call would “know” is that Donald Trump said to the president of Ukraine “I would like you to do us a favour”. I can’t speak for my fellow readers of the English language but that doesn’t exactly sound like “perfect” presidential rhetoric when followed by the suggestion of blocking military aid to Ukraine unless an investigation into presidential candidate Joe Biden was carried out.

The main concern with President Donald Trump’s behaviour comes from the accusation that Trump did in fact threaten to halt $400 million U.S dollars of military aid for Ukraine in order to come to a quid pro quo agreement with the Ukrainian president. It was the ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, who made these accusations originally, and on October 31st they were confirmed by an aide to the National Security Council. This military aid was entirely hinged not only on an investigation into Joe Biden but also on Zelensky publicly announcing an investigation into suspected Ukrainian interference during the election in 2016. According to statements released from the White House, the transcript was not in fact verbatim and therefore would have certain things exempt. Enter false claim number 13,436: Donald Trump states “this is an exact word for word transcript” on the 2nd of October. This is where it really becomes tricky to decide whether the impeachment inquiry is justified, all I can see here is the greatest truth-telling president in American history!

This whole situation raises a plethora of questions. Did Donald Trump try and coerce the president of Ukraine to debunk speculation of Russian involvement in the 2016 elections by shifting the focus to Ukrainian involvement whilst subsequently undergoing an investigation of Joe Biden as he runs for presidential candidacy in the United States? If the answer is yes, then let me ask you is this an impeachable offense, or is this a witch hunt led by the democrats who want nothing more than to “wage a war on the constitution” as Trump put it? Was the transcript a word for word copy of the call like the consistently honest (excluding those pesky 13,435 false claims everyone keeps going on about) president claims or should we trust the White House memo that stated what was released was a non-verbatim rough transcript? There are too many uncertainties, but the one thing that can put us at ease is knowing that this happens all the time. Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, casually justified the quid pro quo by telling a room full of journalists that “we do that all the time with foreign policy”. Well, as long as we do it all the time right? It’s only the integrity of a democratic government at stake – is that really a reason to start the greatest witch hunt in American history?

Words, Clare Morris

Image, David Morris – @davidmorristravels