Eyewitness News’ Brad Byrd talks with Dr. Wes Milner about impeachment and what that could mean for President Donald Trump.
Dr. Wes Milner talks about why this is happening and what the next step could be.
Brad Byrd: Welcome to in-depth. Impeachment. The mere mention of that word appeared to be an artifact from the past. But an impeachment vote and subsequent senate trial happened late in the second term of Bill Clinton about 20 years ago. There was Watergate and the forced resignation of Richard Nixon back in the 70s. That came more than one hundred years after the impeachment drama of Andrew Johnson. Today, the possibility a sitting president could be forced out of office is there, there certainly is the possibility. Joining me tonight is Dr. Wes Milner. He is Executive Director of International Programs and a professor of Political Science at the University of Evansville. And we’re always glad to have you come out and talk to us about the issues we are facing right now. Historically, impeachment has appeared to be a drawn-out process, the times would show us that it would take – like it took 2 years for example Richard Nixon to be forced with resignation – but here, I’m holding right here is that transcript of that phone call that was made in late July between Pres. Trump and Pres. Zelensky. The speed of this is just mind boggling. Tell me why that’s happening right now as far as the change of the process.
Wes Milner: I think your point is well taken. It’s much faster than what you would have seen during the Nixon Administration and even the Clinton administration in ’98 and ’99. I think part of it may be media – I think we’re looking at a fast-paced media that’s trying to break the headline and get ahead of whether it be the Democrat or the White House. The story, the news media cycle, but I think perhaps Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff are also driving this they know there’s a time constraint on this and they have to move and move relatively quickly. And then I think you see the counter punches of the White House as this ramps up.
Brad Byrd: And definitely the rhetoric from the President was ramping up today by his standards of tweeting and the verbiage he often uses to describe his adversaries. But with this being said, both sides, is this continuing to polarize the country? The process itself of impeachment that it’s come to this point.
Wes Milner: I think it is. If you look at the media, people are getting their information from filtered sources and only seeing and hearing what they want to hear. The president on his side, the House and Democrats on that side. So, I think it’s going to be interesting to see the speed at which this develops – can there be a shift like what we saw in the Nixon Administration? The Republicans held very firm like we see now, until a point where it appeared that it was simply untenable for the White House and the Republicans ultimately convinced the president that the game was up.
Brad Byrd: And House Speaker Pelosi is trying to keep the focus Ukraine in this situation. Why is that important at least in this situation from the Democrats point of view?
Wes Milner: I think to maybe counter that the president has been very effective with saying this is just a continuation and indeed a democratic as he would say a ‘hit job’, building on the Mueller investigation and the 2016 election. I think she and the Democrats are saying this is new information from the whistleblower and it appears through the DNI – the Director of National Intelligence – that this whistleblower has followed the protocols and has gone through the various channels and it now has reached a number of committees, especially Adam Schiff from the Intelligence committee. And it’s moving very quickly. To see how that’s going to unfold, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats want to stay focused and try to counter that this is just a partisan ‘hit job’.
Brad Byrd: And is the president in serious trouble with what he’s facing? And I don’t want to pass any judgement here, but is he in trouble?
Wes Milner: It’s an excellent question and I think if you look (again) at the Clinton administration and the Nixon administration before that, impeachment is a political process, not a legal process. And at this point, there is zero shift at all in the leadership or even the rank in file. There’s a lot of silence and the House is in recess now for a couple of weeks, but no one on the Republican side is speaking of it. It remains to be seen and I think in the last 18 months, you’ve seen very little shift in Republican support for the president and as we get closer and closer to the 2020 Midterm, that’s going to be a very telling sign.
Brad Byrd: And if articles of impeachment are passed in the House, it would be up to the Senate then to hold the trial.
Wes Milner: Right.
Brad Byrd: Sen. Mitch McConnell in all this he said a few days ago, he would definitely have to hold a trial (obviously) with Donald Trump in the center. So, is this all for not? Because the Senate as you have said the Republicans have been holding steadfast with their support of Donald Trump – Mike Braun has really come out supporting him, especially since this development. What happens if there are articles of Impeachment voted in?
Wes Milner: Again, I think it’s a calculus made by the White House and the Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate. Nancy Pelosi, if you take her at her word, then you’re correct that she has staved this off for a number of months even though many in her left flank were saying we need to push for impeachment. She didn’t view that this was an expediate path to take and it appears that she’s been convinced that this narrow case with Ukraine is one that – from a constitutional standpoint – forgo the House’s responsibility and their constitutional checks and balances.
Brad Byrd: Alright, Dr. Wes Milner from the University of Evansville thank you so much for taking some time tonight with us. I’m sure this is a fluid story as you know and we’ll be talking about this for some time.
(This story was originally published on October 2, 2019)