Friday, December 6, 2019

The Trump Impeachment from a Founder Perspective

By: Xavier Starrs
Two hundred and thirty-two years separates the founders’ First Continental Congress and the beginning proceedings of President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment. The founders, in Article 2 Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, outline the causes for impeachment, which they list as treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. With this expansive and broad language, the founders make clear that a variety of actions, both large and small, are impeachable. The founders’ other writings show that foreign interference can be considered one of these actions.  In modern day, President Donald Trump’s actions have been called into question because he sought the Ukrainian president’s assistance in digging up dirt on his biggest competitor for the White House in 2020, Joe Biden. If transplanted into the current time, the founders would conclude that President Trump should be impeached based on his solicitation of foreign involvement to settle a personal score, withholding U.S. aid to encourage this involvement, which is a violation of the authority of Congress, and jeopardizing an American election with a conflict of interest.
The founders inserted the emoluments clause in the Constitution in Article 1 Section 9 specifically to prohibit foreign gifts without congressional consent. The founders, in the creation of this clause, intended the phrase “accept any present” to extend to any benefits, advantages, or services.  President Trump is in violation of this when he asks President Zelensky for a “favor” in the form of dirt on Joe Biden. Biden is currently in the lead for the Democrats ahead of the 2020 presidential primary. Perhaps more incriminating, prior to making this request, Trump froze $400 million in financial aid that Congress had already approved to send to Ukraine. Trump denies that this action was intended to influence the Ukraianian president, but the timing of this was only one week prior to the phone call, and the delay was suspiciously described to Congress as part of an “interagency process” without further details. The pressure on a foreign leader for a favor while also leveraging millions in military aid would raise concern for the founding fathers. In a letter addressed to Thomas Jefferson, John Adams writes, “You are apprehensive of foreign Interference, Intrigue, Influence. So am I.—But, as often as Elections happen, the danger of foreign Influence recurs”(National Archives). Adams establishes Jefferson’s concerns with foreign interference and reinforces it with his own apprehension that interference is likely to occur in connection with elections. It follows, then, that the two founders would find the president of the United States entangling a foreign leader in an upcoming presidential election while freezing funds highly problematic. 
Even if President Trump did want to investigate Joe Biden’s role in conflicts of interest involving Ukraine when he was vice president, Trump would not seek out this information on his own, as a president. The United States Justice Department exists for the sole purpose of protecting the public from foreign (and domestic) threats and they would uncover the truth by investigating using sanctioned methods. The appropriate avenue would be for the president to direct the Justice Department or FBI to investigate. 
 The conflict between national and personal interests was a cause for concern for founder Alexander Hamilton. In The Federalist Papers No. 65, Hamilton wrote that impeachment was necessary because any foreign entanglement that could “connect itself with the pre-existing factions [of the president], and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be....danger”. Hamilton wanted an impartial president without personal ties to foreign entities. Further, under the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution, the founders restrain what they view as tyranny with the impeachment process. By using his personal lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, Trump attempted to distance himself from the matter, but it is still not appropriate.  The president must not seek personal political assistance from foreign governments, whether it is through a direct phone call made personally or through his personal lawyer. Jefferson believed such solicitation was a presidential abuse that jeopardized the state and public trust (Jefferson, 284).
Considering all the elements of the Trump-Ukraine scandal, the founders would find it fitting to impeach Donald Trump. Through his personal lawyer and in a phone call to the Ukrainian leader, Trump invited foreign involvement in a U.S. election, and he did so while withholding funds, authorized by another branch of government, for leverage. This solicitation is a presidential abuse of power, and it demonstrates a conflict of national and personal interest. The times have changed vastly from two hundred and thirty years ago, but the vision the founders remains.  

Adams, John. “National Archives.” Received by Thomas Jefferson, National Archives, 12 Jan.
Hamilton, Alexander. “Federalist No. 65.” The Federalist Papers - Resources - Resources,

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Forbidden Hallways

By Adrianna DeFuoco

Lunch used to be a time where students could walk around after having been sitting all day, go to their lockers to prepare for their afternoon classes, and hang out with their friends.  Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Due to a recent turn of events and budget cuts previously discussed, the school has had to close down the hallways during lunch because there aren’t enough teachers to watch the students. While that seems to be a sensible and easy remedy to the situation, it has also caused many of the students to complain. The hallways, specifically the Math and English wings as well as the one parallel to the English wing, were important to the students since many of them enjoyed going for a leisurely stroll or sitting down to eat lunch away from the already crowded cafeteria and gym. 

The first and biggest reason why most students are unhappy with the closure of the hallways is because they enjoyed winding down and going for a casual stroll with friends throughout them. Two out of three students agree that the hallways are a walking destination. Nayla Diogine, a 10th grade student, said, “Students would rather walk around because they either have nothing better to do or because they are tired of sitting ̈

Another reason for the upset is because, due to the tight space in the gym and cafeteria, most students don’t really have anywhere to go during lunch. Several of the students that were asked agree that all the locations that they are permitted to eat in are much too loud and crowded. Nayla Diogine said, “I used to sit in the hallway with my friends and it was great. It wasn’t loud and a basketball wouldn’t hit me there. We could just hang out and eat our food, and I never saw any problem with it. We are still in the school, and we are not breaking any rules so what’s the harm in that?¨ 

Of course, the courtyard is a great substitute for the hallways, however the weather might prevent some students from wanting to eat there. The displacement has caused that area to become crowded as well. There also comes the matter of what will happen once winter comes, and it’s too cold and snowy to go out in the courtyard.

Many students also agreed that it is important to have access to their lockers at all times. McKenzie Dingle, a 10th grade student, said, “I can’t get to my locker personally I need to be able to get in there to do projects or homework or I can’t walk into the library to print something because I feel like I’m going to be stopped and yelled at for being there.¨ During lunch is the most convenient time to go and get the necessary books from lockers. Going before lunch does not allow much time to buy lunch, and some students have club meetings to get to. Going after lunch also runs a risk of being late for the next class. 

At the end of the day, there likely won’t be a solution to this dilemma that will satisfy both the faculty and the students. While the current situation is problematic, it likely won’t reach a compromise for some time.


By: Mary Reduzzi
There has been much speculation regarding the recent events leading up to the fourth presidential impeachment process in American history. President Trump may have committed an impeachable offense, but what the Constitution deems as such blurs the clarity of the line drawn between legal and illegal implementations put forth by the president. By analyzing the Constitution further, United States federal courts can clarify whether Trump’s call to the Ukranian president violates his Executive rights. However, the big question remains: what would the framers of the document itself say? Through the use of historical analysis, Article II. Section 4 of the United States Constitution, and the declassified transcript of the phone call in question, it is clear why the framers would not consider this act an impeachable offense. 
The Constitution, ratified in 1788, was written by men during a time when the news was delivered by horseback and official business between two nations often took months to transpire. The framers were unable to fathom the means of communication society utilizes today, and they left the causes for impeachment quite vague. According to the constitution, “The President shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” 1 Clearly, the writers could not specifically affirm that any president who calls a president of another country on the phone with intent to hurt a political rival, with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice, would be impeachable. The interpretation of “high crimes and misdemeanors” is what makes the Constitution difficult to use in the argument for and against Trump’s impeachment. Historically, this term has been used throughout English Parliament to impeach officials of the crown who abused their power and were proven unfit to serve. 2 Be that as it may, the framers were more interested in protecting the well-being of the

1 U.S Const., art. II, § 4.
public, and sought to protect against a President or officer explicitly harming the people as a whole, not just using his power unjustly to benefit himself and/or a group of supporters. That being said, an impeachable offense, according to the Constitution, can simply be interpreted as a crime committed against the general public.
Trump may not have directly endangered the citizens of the United States, but the controversial content within his phone call to Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky may prove to be a violation of his Executive powers. Legal experts say Trump’s call with Zelensky, in which he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter and may have implicitly tied foreign aid money to the request, may not have violated the letter of the law.” 3 This 30-minute phone call did not involve payment to an individual government official and was not for business purposes, which protects Trump from an accusation consisting of bribery. The Justice Department’s Criminal Division also reviewed the call and reported that there was no campaign finance law violation. 4 President Trump firmly believes it is his right to forcefully investigate corruption with the help of other countries, and his motive, attempting to tear down a Democratic candidate, does not appear to be an injury done immediately to society itself. However, the abuse of a foreign law enforcement investigation for personal political gain is in the process of being labeled an impeachable offense on the grounds that Trump’s actions were not illegal, but may warrant his removal from office. 5 

2 Berenson, Tessa. “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Sept. 25, 2019. Accessed Oct. 3, 2019.
3 “Why Donald Trump’s Ukraine Call Could Be An Impeachable Offense.” Accessed Oct. 3, 2019.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
The framers of the Constitution deemed impeachment a type of “check” towards Executive power and left the means of removal from office somewhat vague. There is no immediate evidence of treason, bribery, or crime committed by the President, and during the time the Constitution was ratified, political leaders were under much less scrutiny while collaborating with each other. Further, due to the fact that the framers interpreted impeachable offenses like those in English Parliament, as crimes and abuses of power done against the public, President Trump’s phone call to the Ukranian President would not seem as threatening as it does today. The increasingly-oppositional and highly-competitive party-system in the United States today strongly differs from the party-system found in 1788. The call that was made to jeopardize potential future presidential candidate Joe Biden is outrageous to American citizens who are heavily Democratic solely because he is Democratic, and feel more personally attacked than citizens in 1788 would feel. This raises the question of whether or not this “misdemeanor” directly injures the public and the members of the Constitutional Congress when they met for the first time so many years ago would say no, simply because party-politics have changed so drastically.
Berenson, Tessa. “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Sept 25, 2019. Accessed 
Oct. 3, 2019.

U.S Const., art. II, § 4. Accessed Oct. 3, 2019.

“Why Donald Trump’s Ukraine Call Could Be An Impeachable Offense.” Accessed 
Oct. 3, 2019.