Trump: Did he obstruct justice?
We now have “a smoking gun” that President Trump has committed obstruction of justice, said Michael Cohen in The Boston Globe. In fact, we have multiple smoking guns. There can no longer be any doubt that the president fired then–FBI Director James Comey in order to quash the bureau’s investigation of Trump’s Russian ties. In an account the White House doesn’t dispute, The New York Times reported last week that the day after canning Comey, Trump bragged to Russia’s foreign minister, “I just fired the head of the FBI.... I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Earlier, Trump admitted in an NBC interview he fired Comey over “this Russia thing.” On top of that, The Washington Post reported, Trump asked his own appointees as director of national intelligence and the head of the National Security Agency to issue statements clearing him and his campaign of collusion with Russia—a request both refused. “What more evidence could possibly be needed that Trump has committed a high crime and misdemeanor”—for which the constitutional remedy is impeachment? Trump keeps getting away with violating all norms of politics and decency, said Michelle Goldberg in Slate.com. “But we now may have finally, finally reached a tipping point.” Trump’s admissions that he repeatedly interfered with an investigation into his own campaign feel “like the beginning of the end.”
Trump may be a “terrible president,” said David Harsanyi in the New York Post, but the remedy for bad presidents is to vote them out of office. Impeachment is for actual “high crimes” against the nation, and for all the media’s “hysteria,” there has “been no evidence offered so far to prove ‘collusion’ between Trump and Russia” in the 2016 election. Last week, Reuters breathlessly reported that the Trump campaign had “18 undisclosed contacts with Russians”—but then added that investigators have found “no evidence of wrongdoing” so far. Trump may “not know what he’s doing,” said Kevin Williamson in NationalReview.com. But he’s done nothing yet that rises to the level of an impeachable offense. “It is not unconstitutional to be a fool.”
When special counsel Robert Mueller investigates all those contacts with a hostile foreign power, said Jennifer Rubin in WashingtonPost.com, collusion is a real possibility. So are illegal financial entanglements between Trump, his associates, and the Russians. Last week, it was reported that investigators are targeting Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a “person of interest.” But as with Richard Nixon’s Watergate, Trump’s cover-up may be his undoing. It is now “almost undeniable” that Trump abused presidential power “to get Comey off his back.” Trump and several of his closest allies are now in “grave legal and political danger.”
Maybe so, said David Corn in MotherJones.com, but there will be no impeachment while Republicans control Congress. GOP lawmakers know their legislative priorities would be torpedoed if they took on Trump; they must also consider what a vengeful ex–President Trump and his millions of supporters might do if he were removed from office. For Republicans to break ranks with Trump “would risk a nuclear civil war that could blow their party to smithereens.” That calculation could change, however, said Ezra Klein in Vox.com. Privately, many GOP lawmakers admit they dislike Trump and are sick of his relentless self-sabotage. If evidence continues to mount that Trump committed an impeachable offense, Republicans may decide they’re better off being “the patriots who uncovered it, rather than the hacks who suppressed it.”