What Exactly Does Impeachment Mean?

BY: ALEXIS COPE

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” 

That’s Article II, Section IV of the Constitution of the United States, the document detailing the format and inner workings of our nation’s government. It’s well known, well studied, and well worn; it’s the ingenious piece of paper that has created the world’s first successful democracy. This Constitution has lasted over two hundred years, a small time compared to some nations, but a rather extraordinary amount of time for a democracy. Even after a civil war threatened to end that democracy, she persevered, and since then our nation has only grown stronger. Given recent developments, the Constitution’s impeachment policy has become of particular interest to the American public. 

So, what is impeachment, exactly? Well, it turns out it isn’t quite what you’re thinking.

First, some context. The first recorded use of impeachment was in the British Parliament, as a check of power on the king. It gave Parliament the ability to remove government officials without needing permission from the current ruling monarch. However, this process didn’t allow for the removal of the king, as he was considered the cornerstone of British power. 

It was in this detail that the Founding Fathers disagreed with Britain’s policy. They refuted the idea of a centralized power that could act without the consent of those it governed, especially since they had just gained independence from a nation whose government operated in that manner. 

Immediately after the Revolutionary War, the Founding Fathers set up America’s first government under The Articles of Confederation, a document that essentially let each state create its own government and function almost totally independently from the rest. However, the Articles failed after only a few years, chiefly due to the lack of a strong centralized government that could unite the states. At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, it was decided by the Founders and delegates from each state that centralized power was necessary to form a united nation and establish order.  With all agreeing that checks and balances were necessary to hinder abuses of power, the Founders set up systems such as the three branches of government, the need for Senate approval, veto power, and judicial review. If any official were to abuse his power or conspire against the nation, impeachment was set in place as a sort of final safety mechanism. 

So, how does impeachment work? 

According to the Constitution, the impeachment process starts when any citizen presents a serious claim of misconduct against any civil officer, including the president. Once an allegation is made, the case is taken to the House of Representatives, where the accusation and evidence will be reviewed and scoured by a House Committee – usually the Committee on Rules or the Committee on the Judiciary. After reviewing the evidence of misconduct, they will publish a recommendation. If there is cause to continue, the House will hold votes on the specific charges against the accused, also known as the Articles of Impeachment. If even one of the charges passes by a majority vote, the accused is impeached.

Impeachment itself does not remove an official from office, instead, it is simply the formal statement of misconduct. Removal is decided in a second step–trial–where the defendant can either be acquitted or convicted. The trial will take place before members of the Senate, who act as both the judge and the jury. It is worth noting that the Judicial Branch is only involved if the president or vice president is on trial. In this case, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over the meeting. In all cases, the accused official and their lawyers are given the opportunity to defend themselves. If, at the end of the trial, the vote to convict passes by a majority of two-thirds, the impeached official is immediately removed from their position, and their case is open for standard criminal prosecution. 

It’s a pretty straightforward process, but what crimes are worthy of impeachment? The Constitution isn’t very clear about this; an official can only be impeached for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors.” So, really, there’s quite a lot of room for interpretation. 

Impeachment is a rare occurrence, let alone conviction and removal from office. In the entire history of the United States, only two presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson, for attempting to replace his Secretary of War without consent of the Senate, and Bill Clinton, for lying during a sexual harassment trial. Both were acquitted. Richard Nixon faced the possibility of impeachment but resigned before any true proceedings could occur.

 Within the past week, an impeachment inquiry against President Trump has been filed on the grounds of collusion with the ally nation of Ukraine. It all began when an unidentified whistleblower complained that the president had made an inappropriate “promise” to a foreign leader. We have since learned that President Trump, while on a call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, urged Zelensky to “investigate” Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. This call suspiciously fell a mere one week after President Trump ordered his acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back nearly $400 million aid, slated to be used for military aid in Ukraine. House Democrats, led by the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, immediately filed the inquiry. If the House finds sufficient evidence, President Trump may very well find himself added to that same short list of impeached presidents, and could possibly become the first to be removed from office. Only time will tell. 

On Thursday, President Trump began to publicly urge China to also investigate the Bidens.

BY JIM LO SCALZO/EPA/BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES.
Nancy Pelosi formally endorsing an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

The Unique Impacts of Matthew, Florence, and Dorian

BY: ELISE BAGLEY

It’s well known that global climate change has led to an increased prevalence of extreme weather phenomena. North Carolina has been hit by several severe hurricanes in recent years, and those storms have not only impacted our state, but the country as a whole. Every hurricane is unique, with each having its own “personality.” For instance, every storm takes a different path to its final destination, due to deeply complicated, not-fully-understood weather patterns. Some hurricanes cause more flooding, while others lead to more wind damage; some hit the coast hard, while others may actually hit inland North Carolina worse. Since 2016, there have been three major hurricanes that have caused significant damage to our area. In order to better understand these storms, let’s look at some unique features of each. 

Hurricane Mathew: October 8-9, 2016

Hurricane Mathew was a unique storm for North Carolina: while most hurricanes enter North Carolina through the Outer Banks, Mathew came up into our state from South Carolina, before stalling and heading back out to sea. This caused catastrophic damage in the southeastern portion of the state, accumulating 4.8 billion dollars in damages. 28 people were killed in North Carolina alone, including 19 who drowned in their cars. 

Horrific flooding, caused by Hurricane Matthew, shown in a neighborhood in eastern North Carolina. (National Weather Service, 2016)

Hurricane Florence: September 14, 2018

Hurricane Florence, nicknamed “The Frankenstorm” made landfall just south of Wrightsville Beach on September 14, 2018. The Category 1 storm held sustained wind speeds of 106 miles per hour and a 12-foot storm surge. The Charlotte Observer stated that of the 33 hurricanes that hit North Carolina before Florence, the only other one that made landfall as far north as Florence was Hurricane Hazel (1933). Florence turned deadly due to its slow-moving and determined nature. 30 people died as a direct result of the storm and 23 additional people died in situations indirectly related to Hurricane Florence. The cost for damages far exceeded Mathew, at 17 billion dollars in statewide damages. 

Neighbors shown attempting to rescue local citizens from the rising floodwaters of Hurricane Florence. (Chip Somodevilla-Getty Images, 2018)

Hurricane Dorian: August 22-24, 2019

In late August of this year, Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas and made its way to the States. Dorian’s path traveled straight up the east coast of the US, making landfall in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Dorian reached the Outer Banks as a powerful Category 2 storm, devastating these islands with the second direct hit from a hurricane in less than a year. Even houses on stilts had water covering their first floors as Dorian raised water levels over 7 feet in just an hour and a half. Dorian spun off many tornadoes with wind speeds of up to 90 miles an hour. Hundreds of residents were trapped on top of their houses waiting to be rescued. Four people have died in North Carolina due to Dorian and the cost for damages is estimated to be over 5 billion dollars nationwide. 

A trailer home in Emerald Isle in shown upended after a tornado caused by Hurricane Dorian.  (Morgan Newell-NewsChannel 12, 2019)

Header image: Satellite view of Hurricane Dorian on September 2 GETTY IMAGES

Live Updates on The UNC Charlotte Shooting

By The Page Editing Staff

charlotte

BREAKING: CHARLOTTE, NC– Two students are reported dead and four injured in a shooting on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The campus remains on lockdown while police clear every building, a process expectedo take several more hours. University officials believe that there is no ongoing threat at this time but are taking every possible precaution. Exams at the school have been cancelled through Sunday and students not in a building are encouraged to leave campus if possible. This is a developing story and will be updated.

UPDATE: 10:23 PM: The UNCC chapter of the Alpha Tau Omega | Lambda Delta fraternity released a statement stating that Drew Pescaro, a member of that fraternity was injured in the shooting and is currently being treated at Carolinas Medical Center. Pescaro is a sophomore communications native at UNCC and a Massachusetts native who graduated in 2017 from Middle Creek High School in Cary.

UPDATE: 10:38 PM: The suspected gunman is 22-year-old Trystan Terrell, a History major who dropped out this semester. Police say they have no reason to believe anybody else is involved. 

UPDATE: 10:44 PM: NC Governor Roy Cooper held a joint press conference with the Chancellor of UNCC and the UNCC Police Chief. He commended the first responders on the scene. Among his remarks were: “I want this university and city to know that this state will be there for them… for many people here, this will be the worst day of their lives,” and “this is a tough day, but the university will get through it… students should not have to fear for their lives on campuses.

UPDATE: 10:53 PM: UNC Charlotte’s Office of Emergency Management tweeted that the lockdown had been lifted. Students may go to the student union, residence halls, or depart campus.The school’s chancellor has put out a statement outlining the university’s response and offering more details on the shooting. Read the full statement here.

UPDATE 12:00 AM WEDNESDAY: The UNC Charlotte Emergency Management Office announced that the university is operating at a Condition 2 suspended state of operation as of midnight May 1st. More information can be found here.

UPDATE: 2:20 AM: The official Twitter account of the UNC Charlotte Emergency Management Office tweeted the following this morning at 2:20 AM: “NinerAlert: ALL CLEAR. Campus lockdown has been lifted. Kennedy building remains closed due to active crime scene. Continue to check campus email and emergency.” The university is still cancelling exams through Sunday and remains in a C2 suspended operations status as of 8:53 AM. Find more tweets, including updates on dining services, emotional support and other continued updates here.

UPDATE: 3:57 AM: The official Twitter account of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department has released a statement confirming that suspected killer Trystan Andrew Terrell, a 22 year old former student of UNC Charlotte, has been formally charged by detectives.  The charges levied against him include two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon and intent to kill, possession of a firearm on educational property and discharge of a firearm on educational property.

UPDATE 9:05 AM: Drew Pescaro, a Middle Creek High School graduate and current Middle Creek High School student and sports writer for the UNCC Niner Times who is the only publicly identified victim of Tuesday evening’s shooting, is in stable condition after undergoing surgery. His brother Ross Pescaro, who declined to issue an official statement in an overnight interview with local news station WBTV, has confirmed that Drew is in stable condition and his family is on their way to be with him in the hospital in Charlotte. The victim’s brother asked for people to keep Drew in their prayers and to use the hashtag #DrewStrong when posting about him on social media. The Niner Times released a statement of support for Pescaro overnight confirming that he is stable and that “the full support of the Niner Times staff is behind him” as he continues to recover.

UPDATE 10:17AM: Phillip Dubois, the chancellor of UNC Charlotte, has identified the six victims of Tuesdays shooting to local radio station WBT. The four injured, one of whom has been released from the hospital, include 19-year-old Drew Pescaro and 20-year-old Sean DeHart of Apex, 20-year-old Ramy Alramadhan of Saudi Arabia and 23-year-old Emily Haupt of Charlotte. Dubois identified 19-year-old Ellis Parlier of Midland and 21-year-old Riley Howell as the two who were killed, both pronounced dead at the scene of the attack. In light of this tragedy and in respect of its victims, NC Governor Roy Cooper has ordered that all flags are to fly at half-mast for the time being.

Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with the UNC Charlotte community. We know this is an incredibly difficult time of unimaginable loss, and will continue to post updates as more details are released. Please keep communicating with those you know on campus, stay informed and most importantly, stay safe.

 

The R. Kelly Charges Explained

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

Dubbed the “King of R&B,” R. Kelly is celebrated as one the greatest R&B singers of all time. However, Kelly’s career has been filled with rumors involving abuse, paedophilia, and predatory behavior toward women. Recently, he has been sued on accounts of sexual abuse by multiple women, three of which were underage at the time of encounters. Kelly has denied each of these charges.

On February 22, 2019 a grand jury indicted Kelly on 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims all under the age of 17. This indictment came one month after the release of Surviving R. Kelly, a Lifetime docu-series about the women with stories of sexual abuse by R. Kelly, ignited calls to have the singer fully investigated.

Earlier in February, Attorney Michael Avenatti, the representative for an R. Kelly “whistleblower,” handed over to prosecutors a tape featuring Kelly and an underage girl participating in sexual activities. The details of the tape mirror the child pornography allegations R. Kelly faced in 2002; he was acquitted of those charges in 2008. This evidence presented by Avenatti was what ultimately pushed the grand jury to indict the singer.

On Friday, February 22, 2019, Kelly turned himself into a Chicago police station. He appeared in court the following Saturday for a bail hearing set at $1 million, which he was unable to pay until the next Monday. (His lawyer has reported that his finances are “a mess” due to losing his contract and tour dates.) On March 22nd, Kelly’s lawyer requested a delay for the next court hearing. Kelly claimed he had concert dates in Dubai; however, this claim has been denied by Dubai’s government. The next court hearing will take place on May 7th.

The Jussie Smollett Case: A Timeline

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

On January 22, 2019, Empire actor Jussie Smollett reported receiving a threatening envelope with “MAGA” written in red ink as the return address. Inside this envelope, which was sent to his workplace at Fox production studios on Chicago’s West Side, were cut-out letters spelling “You will die black” and crushed pain reliever. A week later, the actor reported that he was attacked by two men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs, declared “This is MAGA country,” and hit him before wrapping a noose wet with acid around his neck. Following his report, police searched for hours going through footage but couldn’t find direct evidence of the alleged attacks. However, police did find an image of two men during the time leading up to the attack.

On February 1, Smollett released his first statement since the alleged attack, insisting that he was “100 percent factual and consistent on every level” in his talks with authorities. The next day, Smollett thanked his supporters at his first performance since the incident.

About two weeks after the alleged attack, Smollett appeared on Good Morning America to quell any doubts of the attack’s validity. Later that day, the Chicago Police informed the media that two Nigerian-American brothers captured on video around the time and location of the supposed attack were seen as potential suspects and would be interviewed. However, the next afternoon, the Chicago PD confirmed the innocence of the two brothers, and they were released, leading many to question Smollett’s testimony.

While in custody, the two Nigerian-American brothers gave valuable information that led the Chicago PD to investigate whether Smollett paid the two brothers and orchestrated the whole attack. Smollett responded to these accusations in a strongly worded statement claiming he was victimized.

Two days later, Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. The day after he was charged, Smollett turned himself in to Chicago PD, who set his bond at $100,000. Smollett continues to maintain his innocence.

The day after Smollett made bail, Fox Television released a statement that his character would be removed from the last two episodes of Empire’s current season.

After continued investigation, a Cooke County grand jury indicted Jussie Smollett on 16 counts of disorderly conduct, and on March 14th Smollett pleaded not guilty to all counts. In recent news, prosecutors dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel blasted the decision as a “whitewash of justice,” while various celebrities including Ava Duvernay and Smollet’s Empire co-star Taraji P. Henderson claimed the news validated their support for Smollett. 

The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Recipients

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to those who have done honorable efforts in four main areas: arms control and disarmament, peace negotiation, democracy and human rights, and work aimed at creating a better organized and more peaceful world. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. Both Mukwege and Murad have made meaningful contributions in their home countries and throughout the world to bring attention to these war crimes.

Dr. Denis Mukwege is a world-renowned gynecological surgeon who is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. He founded the Panzi Hospital in 1999 as a clinic for gynecological and obstetric care, and expected to be working on issues of maternal healthcare. However, when the Second Congo War began, which took the lives of almost 6 million Congolese lives, rape had continually been used as a weapon, and the amount of sexual violence towards women and children increased drastically. Since 1999, Dr. Mukwege and his staff have helped to care for more than 50,000 survivors of sexual violence. The hospital not only treats survivors with physical wounds, but also provides legal, and psycho-social services to its patients in a center called the City of Joy.

Dr. Nadia Murad herself is a survivor of sexual violence. In 2014 she was captured and endured months as a sex slave at the hands of Islamic State militants after they swept through the area of northern Iraq where she lived with her family and killed several hundred people. During her time in captivity, Murad was bought and sold several times and was subject to sexual and physical abuse, including threats that she would be killed if she did not convert to their hateful, oppressive version of Islam. The sexual abuses of the  Islamic State army were systematic, a part of their military strategy, and therefore a weapon of war. After three months as a captive, Murad managed to flee—and she did not stay quiet.

Dr. Denis Mukwege and Dr. Nadia Murad have both risked their lives and the lives of their families by speaking their truth, calling out the perpetrators of war crimes, and seeking justice for the victims. They have continually used their platform to draw attention to the issue of rape as a weapon of war and to speak up for the voiceless in this inhuman human rights violation.

French Protests: The “Gilets Jaunes” Movement

BY EBENEZER NKUNDA

Protests have a long history in France, from the French Revolution to the revolutions of 1830 and 1848, the Commune in 1871, the strike in 1944 (which helped liberate Paris from the Nazis), and the protests of students and workers in May 1968. No one does a protest like the French—it’s in their blood.  

The Gilets Jaunes, or “The Yellow Vests”, is a movement that has sparked France and has become the biggest challenge to the presidency of the French President, Emmanuel Macron. The movement takes its name from the fluorescent yellow safety vests that French law requires all motorists to carry; protesters have adopted these yellow vests as a symbol. Anger sparked after French President Emmanuel Macron said that starting January 1st of the new year, taxes on fuel would rise again, even after it was raised 20% the past year. Macron claimed it was necessary to fight climate change and protect the environment. It was also a way for Macron to start an initiative on persuading French residents to drive more electric cars since it is less harmful to the environment. Analysts say most of those joining the yellow vest movement are workers on lower middle-class incomes. These citizens say they barely scrape by with current taxes and get scant public services in exchange for some of the highest tax bills in Europeabout 60% of their annual incomes.

Even though most of these protests across France have been peaceful, the one in Paris became the worst rioting the French capital has seen in years. Shops were looted and cars torched around the famed Champs Elysées, as four people were killed and hundreds injured in clashes or accidents stemming from the protest. Edouard Philippe, the Prime Minister of France, recently suspended the plans to raise the tax on fuels for at least six months, saying no tax increase is worth jeopardizing the country’s unity. While some French residents feel that this is nowhere near the changes needed, the French government at least shows some sign of appeasing the protestors.