Ukraine Scandal

Carys Law ‘21

Once again, scandal rocks the Donald Trump presidency.  Recently, the White House released the rough transcript of a phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.  To some, this news was unsurprising, and to others, an absolute shock.


On August 12, a whistleblower – a person who exposes secretive and illegal information – filed a formal complaint with intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson regarding President Trump’s phone call discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky [1].  In it, Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate the business dealings of Joe Biden, who is running against Trump in the 2020 election [2]. Soon after news of collusion with Ukraine disseminated, the public was in an uproar.  


In an effort to mollify the people, the White House released a transcript of the call in which Zelensky openly asked Trump for military weaponry to fend off the Russians encroaching on Ukrainian territory.  Trump followed by saying, “I would like you to do us a favor though,” requesting the use of Ukrainian intelligence to look into unsubstantiated allegations of corruption surrounding Joe Biden and his son, Hunter; many of these accusations come from Hunter’s extensive work at a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma. Due to Hunter’s work in Ukraine, the Obama administration’s point man in the country was Vice President Biden, who visited multiple times from 2014 to 2016 [3].  Many conclude that Trump is pursuing the use of foreign intelligence to investigate the Bidens in order to undermine the competition, as Biden is a leading presidential candidate in the 2020 election. Just days before the call, Trump ordered a hold on military aid to Ukraine for unknown reasons, leading many to speculate that it was to gain leverage and sway over Zelensky [4].


The White House’s course largely backfired, as many Americans found the call incriminating due to the fast-approaching election and its similar nature to reports of Russian collusion back in the 2016 presidential election.  These circumstances have led Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to announce a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump on September 24, 2019 [5]. In the past week, evidence revealed that it was not just a singular phone call, but part of a months-long campaign trading military power for political insight [6].  


Currently, a second whistleblower has come forward, and both are willing to testify in any inquiries, provided that their identities remain anonymous [7].  With the ongoing testifications and the Republicans’ refusal to compromise, the proceedings of the impeachment inquiry still remain largely elusive.