Of course Donald Trump should be impeached. It’s the right thing to do. No one is above the law. Also, he’s a disturbed individual who has no business being President of the United States.
The issues which need to be resolved are: for what and when.
When, depends on how long it takes to resolve the president’s challenge to the subpoenas issued by Congress. Ideally, timing would be after Special Counsel Mueller, Attorney General Barr and witnesses like Don McGahn testify. If the subpoena fight is going to drag on, there is ample evidence to begin drafting Articles of Impeachment forthwith.
For What: Obstruction of Justice, Collusion, and Treason
Contrary to Attorney General Barr’s “vindication” of the president for obstruction, the Mueller report unequivocally did not clear the president: “If we had confidence … that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.” Robert Mueller III is a lawyer’s lawyer, a past FBI director and an institutionalist. He makes it very clear that the reason the president was not indicted was because of the Department to Justice’s (DOJ) internal policy of not indicting a sitting president. On the other hand, he makes it equally clear that Donald Trump can be indicted after he is out of office and that now the constitutional remedy of impeachment is available to the House of Representatives.
As documented by the report, President Trump sought to restrict the investigation, have Attorney General Session unrecuse himself to protect him from the investigation, pushed Don McGahn to lie about his order to fire Mueller, dangled pardons in front of witnesses whose testimony could hurt him, dictated a false and misleading explanation for his son regarding the purpose of the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, and, of course, fired James Comey because he would not “back off” the FBI’s investigation into Trump-Russia and/or Michael Flynn. Most of this was done in plain sight. And, our president continues to obstruct by trying to block McGahn and other administration officials from testifying before Congress irrespective of the fact that legally he has waived the right to do so.
The Special Counsel did not investigate “collusion” with Russia by Trump and his campaign. The Special Counsel was charged with investigating crimes. Collusion, while an impeachable offense, is not a crime. It is a deceitful secret operation to deceive others. The crime of “criminal conspiracy,” on the other hand, must be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” to bring an indictment. Mueller, reminiscent of James Comey’s criticizing Hillary Clinton while stating there was insufficient evidence to indict her, did not think there was sufficient evidence to meet the criminal standard. What he left us with is evidence that can be used to indict Trump once he leaves office and/or be used to impeach him while in office.
The Mueller Report verified 18 known secret meetings between the Trump Campaign and Russians, while adding more than 30 additional secret contacts. It simply doesn’t pass the laugh test to suggest Trump did not know about these. This is collusion, a High Crime and Misdemeanor, i.e., an impeachable offense.
In a previous column (Republicans What Have You Got To Lose?) I argued that after Helsinki our president should be impeached for treason (an enumerated constitutional impeachment criterion). There is nothing in the Mueller Report that contradicts this.
The investigation established that the Russian government believed it would benefit from a Trump presidency (something Vladimir Putin confirmed in Helsinki) and worked extensively to secure that outcome. It also established that the Trump Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.
Just weeks into his presidency Trump declared that there had been no meetings or other communications during the campaign between his advisers and the Russians; something he has repeated throughout his time in office. He lied. Donald Trump is the President of the United States. He has access to all of our classified intelligence, including Russian interference to benefit him in our 2016 election. As the Mueller Report concludes: “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a sweeping and systematic fashion.”
Donald Trump has had five secret meetings with Vladimir Putin while knowing that Russia had attacked our election to benefit him. He stood next to Putin in Helsinki and sided with the Russian’s denial, over information from our own intelligence agencies, saying: “I can think of no reason why Russia would have attacked our election.”
Treason, legally, is criminal disloyalty to the state. We were attacked by the Russians. Donald Trump knew about the attack. He has done nothing to retaliate or protect us from future attacks which will continue to happen unless and until we stop them.
I am aware of the conventional thinking that impeachment will only serve to inflame the Trump base and could lead to his re-election. However, we have a coward and liar as our head of state who has no interest in fulfilling his constitutional oath to protect us from All Enemies Foreign and Domestic. Waiting for 2020 with the hope that the Democratic standard bearer can defeat him is inappropriate. He has obstructed justice, colluded with the Russians, and sided with a hostile foreign power (Russia) over our own intelligence agencies. He has to go.