Adrian Morrow reports on the U.S. House of Representatives launching an impeachment inquiry focused on President Trump’s apparent abuses of power, citing as evidence his request of Ukraine and his public invitation to China to investigate unsubstantiated claims of wrongdoings by Joe Biden, one of his political rivals, and his family.
Appropriate Subject Area(s):
Social studies, current events
Key Question(s) to Explore:
- What is involved with impeaching a U.S. president? What, if any, equivalent checks are there on Canadian prime ministers?
Impeachment, insurgency, hyperbole
Globe article, Internet (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_in_the_United_States)
Introduction to lesson and task:
News feeds are overflowing with reports on the impeachment investigation initiated by the U.S. House of Representatives into Donald Trump’s apparent recent abuses of power. The process involves an investigation, which, if it shows evidence of malfeasance, leads to an official impeachment vote in Congress; this would be followed by a “trial” in the U.S. Senate, which could lead to a guilty verdict, which, in turn, could lead to removing Mr. Trump from office.
As the story unfolds in the United States, students can benefit from a lesson on the nature and role of its impeachment process, how it works, and its historical uses. Students will then explore the Canadian equivalent to impeachment that could remove a prime minister for similar offences.
Action (lesson plan and task):
Using the supplied article, as well as a Wikipedia page on how impeachment works in the U.S. (feel free to cite your own sources for this, if you prefer), students will work in pairs to explain excerpts from the article. Finally, they will compare the U.S. impeachment process with the Canadian way of censuring a prime minister.
Start with a general discussion about the problems facing President Trump. Discover what students already know about the impeachment investigation under way in the United States. Take a show of hands to see how many believe Mr. Trump will be impeached, and whether they think it would be justified, based on what they know to date.
Ask students to pair up, and provide them with the article and the Wikipedia link, then have them complete this worksheet:
Take time to read the article before starting. Answer questions and prompts based on the following quotes from the article:
U.S. President Donald Trump has openly called for both China and Ukraine to investigate one of his chief political rivals – publicly soliciting the kind of foreign election interference for which he already faces an impeachment inquiry.
- In brief, what are the three steps of the impeachment process in the United States?
- What kinds of offences are considered “high crimes and misdemeanors”?
- How many presidents have been impeached to date?
- Was Richard Nixon impeached, and if so, on the basis of what charges?
- On what charges was Bill Clinton impeached, and what was the result of the process?
“If they were honest about it, they’d start a major investigation into the Bidens,” Mr. Trump said of Ukraine in the scrum with reporters.
- According to the article, what 2013 event is Mr. Trump referring to?
- What evidence is there of wrongdoing in this regard?
“[A]ssuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate/‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington,” Mr. Volker wrote.
- What is referred to a having happened in 2016?
- What, if anything, is problematic about the statement by Mr. Volker?
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Mr. Trump’s public appeals to foreign governments Thursday were tantamount to admissions of guilt. “The President has confessed to his violation of his oath of office, right then and there,” she said.
- Which oath of office is Ms. Pelosi referring to?
- How might Mr. Trump’s actions violate that oath?
Not from article: In recent days, Mr. Trump has announced that he will defy the U. S. Congress’s demands for witnesses to testify in the investigation.
- According to your research, in defying Congress, is Mr. Trump committing an impeachable offence?
- In Canada, do we vote directly for a prime minister? If not, how does someone become prime minister?
- How can a prime minster be removed from office? (https://www.britannica.com/topic/parliamentary-system)
Be prepared to discuss your work with the class.
Consolidation of Learning:
- Students discuss their work in class; you supply correct answers as needed. Ask whether any students changed their minds on the subject as a result of their assignment, comparing the straw poll at the beginning with one after the exercise.
- Students can describe, in simple terms, the American impeachment process and how Canada’s system is different in this regard.
- Ask students to report on the impeachment process under way in the United States.