Remember Leonard Cohen’s classic song “Everybody Knows” (Everybody Knows the Captain Lied)? Well, everybody knows that our president lied (more than 10,000 times to date) and should be impeached. Also, everybody knows that Donald Trump will eventually be impeached. There is no reason to wait to do it.
More than 1,000 bipartisan former federal prosecutors, after reading the Mueller report, concluded that: “in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel Policy against indicting a sitting President, [they would face] multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.” In reaching this conclusion they cited the president’s efforts to fire Mueller and falsify evidence about that effort; limit the scope of the Mueller investigation to exclude the president’s conduct; and his working to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing his behavior.
Checks & Balances (C&B), a group of conservative lawyers that assisted the Trump administration in selecting appointees for the federal courts, after reading the Mueller Report, called for the president’s impeachment. Their reasons: “[W]e believe the President’s conduct demonstrates a flagrant disregard for the rule of law … in direct conflict with his constitutional responsibilities, including his commitment under oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
While the Mueller Report clearly lays out grounds for impeachment, people haven’t read it. Seeing Mueller say that “if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” caused critical mass which should lead to impeachment proceedings now.
The 56 House Democrats, plus one Republican, and eight presidential candidates calling for the president’s impeachment now are correct in so doing. I understand that the president would not be convicted by a Republican-controlled Senate, and that Speaker Pelosi fears that therefore impeachment without a record sufficient to support a bipartisan consensus could produce a backlash leading to Trump’s re-election. However, I think her calculus misses the critical point that impeachment proceedings would be educational and that the audience in need of this education are the swing voters in the battleground states.
Trump’s base (40 percent) will not desert him regardless. Anti-Trumpers are not going to change their minds regardless. Congressional Republicans have gone so far down the Trump primrose path they cannot turn back. That leaves roughly the 77,000 swing voters, in the battleground states who gave Trump the White House, as the audience in need of being educated about the High Crimes and Misdemeanors that warrant the president’s impeachment. A televised impeachment proceeding would do this.
It’s critical that this education process include Trump’s failure to protect us from Russia attacking our electoral process. Mueller emphasized this in both his opening and closing remarks: (“Russian intelligence officers … launched a concerted attack on our political system … designed … to interfere with our election and … damage a presidential candidate … [T]here were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in or election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.“
Robert Mueller was not just speaking to us, he was talking to President Trump, whose oath of office requires him to protect us from such attacks from a hostile foreign power. Instead, we all witnessed our president, in Helsinki, stand next to Vladimir Putin and say that rather than believe our own intelligence agencies, which reached the same collusion as the Mueller Report, he chose to believe Vladimir Putin’s denial — because it was strong.
With all of Donald Trump’s yelling “no collusion” (with Russia) it’s easy to forget that the Mueller investigation was initiated to investigate Russia’s interference in our democracy and those who colluded with them. Russia interfered. Russia will do it again. Our president has done nothing to stop them. Impeachment? What are we waiting for?