Union-Tribune Editorial: Trump Impeachment Needs To Draw A Line
Speaker 1: 00:00 More testimony is expected this week at the impeachment inquiry in Congress and house intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff says the whistleblower who passed on concerns about the president's call to Ukraine may soon testify before his committee with the release of the whistleblowers complaint and a memo of the president's call released by the white house. Early polls show more Americans are starting to support the impeachment inquiry, and among them is the editorial board of the San Diego union Tribune. The papers opinion recently came out under the title, quote, Trump impeachment probe needed to draw a line on what presidents can and can't do. And joining me is Matt hall editorial and opinion director at the San Diego union Tribune. And Matt, welcome. Thanks for having me. The union Tribune's editorial board has been critical of the precedent, but hasn't come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry until now. What is it about this charge against Donald Trump that you think merits and impeachment investigation? Speaker 1: 01:00 Well, the accusation is that it was a, a blatant abuse of his presidential power, that he was exhorting a foreign leader to quote unquote dig up dirt. As you're hearing quite a bit on a potential political rival, uh, in, in Joe Biden. And that to us was a bridge too far. We had been talking about weighing in on, uh, the possibility of impeachment hearings for a long time, for months really and didn't want to do it. Didn't think it was necessary. We're worried that it might cause a rift in the country that might, you know, you will be very difficult to heal, but at some point principles matter and what a president can, can't do as the headline said, that's important. Now, the rationale that you just described is, is actually visually represented quite well by the political cartoon that you was Steve Brene did a next to this editorial. Speaker 1: 01:56 Can you describe it for us? Yeah. Uh, it's a really strong and powerful image. It, it shows the president basically hanging upside down, uh, entwined in the cord of the phone symbolizing the Ukraine call. That is the issue that is at question here. Now you chose to start the op ed with reference to a quote from the ghost writer of Trump's art of the deal book. What did Tony Schwartz have to say that's relevant to this situation? Well, I think what Tony said was that this president, he believes what he says oftentimes when it's unbelievable what he says and that that was something that was troublesome to him back in the 80s when he was doing the research on the art of the deal and is I think relevant here. As you see, he that the president keeps using the word perfect to describe this phone call, which you know, the a w all we're saying is in supporting an impeachment inquiry is let's get to the bottom of these facts. Speaker 1: 02:54 What is alleged to have happened is very troublesome and an impeachment inquiry. We'll hopefully get to the bottom of it. And you also write this inquiry should be focused solely on the Ukraine scandal. Why is that? You said that you were you and the paperwork close to calling for impeachment before this broke? Well, I don't think we were close. I think we had discussed it and decided not to do it, but the reason why this crossed the line is because this particular issue again is an a potential abuse of power for personal gain by the president of the United States. And that is a bridge too far for us and that is what needs to be looked at. If we start opening the door to other possibilities, it becomes muddied pretty quick. This one seems very specific, uh, and very easily determined to see what happened and why. Speaker 1: 03:46 Because in addition to the phone call, obviously, and I encourage everyone to not just rely on what we write or what other journalists say or write, but to go and read the five page rough transcript and to read the nine-page whistleblower complaint. You're talking 14 pages. This is not the Muller report. This is a, you can read and digest it in short order and you should as Americans because what is is another thing at issue in that whistleblower complaint, at the very end, the whistleblower mentions the withholding of $400 million. It doesn't go into the details of it, but it essentially talks about the president personally involving himself to withhold hundreds of millions dollars of of American aid to the Ukraine. A decision that was made, you know, before these phone calls, when the president uses terms, and again you can read this yourself by looking at the documents in question uses words like favor and the other thing, so this doesn't look good. Speaker 1: 04:41 We need to get to the facts as as all Americans should want to do. Now, Matt, even though early polls are moving toward supportive impeachment, Americans are still pretty much split on the issue. Some people are even wondering what could it will do considering it's unlikely that the Senate is going to remove Donald Trump as president. So why should the country go through this? Yeah, I think it's the principle of the matter. At a certain point, the country needs to decide what is and is not acceptable for a president to do and this, this notion that a president can call a foreign leader and have them investigate a political rival. That's an abuse of power targeting a political rival. Again, we'll see if that is in fact what happened. We'll look at the context of the aid that was withheld to the Ukraine. But what an impeachment hearing will allow is for Congress to hear directly from the whistleblower, but then also the people that the whistle blower heard from his or herself and that those people who were in the room who are referenced in, uh, the complaint and in the rough transcript, those people who have direct knowledge are the ones we need to hear from here. Speaker 1: 05:50 And you know, maybe we are close to an election. The election is only 13 months away. One of the things that I personally been at had been saying for a long time is, you know, this is a big deal. Let's let get the, let's let the American public get on record here and vote in an election. Whether they think this is acceptable or not. But at the same point, presidential power is not absolute power. Congress exists for a reason and it has only happened a very few times in the history of this nation. But at [inaudible] there's a line I think that the nation should not accept, and this kind of a, you know, alleged abuse of power would cross that line. So let's figure out what happened. And that's, I think, Congress role here. What kind of response have you gotten from readers? A lot of readers agree with us. There are some who are a rigidly opposed as well, you know, and what I tell them is we're not calling for the president to resign. We're calling for Congress to look into this issue and get some answers for us, the American public. And I think that is a rational, reasonable response to the information that emerged last week. I've been speaking with Matt hall, editorial and opinion director at the San Diego union Tribune. Matt, thank you. Happy to be here.