UIndy prof shares how to find truth in impeachment inquiry


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With so many accusations flying around on both sides of the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, the truth for voters may seem far off.

But, one political expert tells us it is possible to cut through the noise and get an unbiased judgment.

Laura Wilson, assistant professor of political science at the University of Indianapolis, told News 8 finding unbiased judgment won’t be easy, though.

She advised people to start by looking at the facts. Don’t fall for the spin from politicians.

In this case, it’s easy to find and read both the transcript of Trump’s call to the Ukrainian president and the complaint filed by an anonymous whistleblower. Together, the documents are less than 20 pages.

“The American public can look at them and make a judgment for themselves,” the professor said. “They don’t have to listen to what politicians say to have a sense of what’s going on.”

Then, whatever your political affiliation, put the shoe on the other foot.

Wilson suggested some questions to ponder. “I recommend, what if it was a different person? If you’re a Democrat, what if it was a Democratic president or vice versa? What if it was Republican leadership looking into this? And so, trying to take a different perspective there, trying to take that partisanship out of it in terms of interpreting what’s going on.”

So much changed in just 48 hours.

Wilson said she believes the documents raise more questions than answers, enough questions to at least warrant a conversation about impeachment.

But, she cautioned, the truth for lawmakers will not be easy to find.

“That’s the ultimate question: Is this an impeachable offense?”

Some Democrats worried the backlash over impeachment could hurt their chances in an election, not help. Wilson said it all depends on how lawmakers go about their investigation and if voters believe they are fair and just.

“That perception is going to be really important, how they see the process being handled. Does it look like it’s a witch hunt or does it look like it’s very valid, fair and, in fact, that this is the right thing to do?”

In the year 2000, although Republican George W. Bush won the presidency over Democrat Al Gore, Republicans lost seats in the House after impeaching Democrat Bill Clinton unsuccessfully.

While there are plenty of contrasts between then and now, the professor points to a pair of key differences: Clinton enjoyed a very strong economy as he ended his second term and the 1990s came to a close with back-to-back budget surpluses.

In this partisan climate, it seems the most likely scenario is Democrats in the House impeach but Republicans in the Senate don’t convict, similar to what happened with the Clinton impeachment.

Wilson said she does not believe impeachment is a foregone conclusion. But, for Democrats to get 22 Senate votes from non-Democrats, “it has to be truly conclusive,” she said. “Anything is possible. It seems really hard to imagine they would be able to get enough votes for that, but we also don’t know what’s out there.”

Wilson added that one key piece in all this is the American public: Will consensus build that impeachment is important and necessary or will they lose interest?

She said consensus provided the key momentum in the Watergate scandal during President Richard Nixon’s administration, which had very low approval numbers when the investigation began.

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