Speed Reads


New York Times columnist dispassionately lays out the evidence that Trump has obstructed justice

An impeachment trial for President Trump isn't in the cards, David Leonhardt concedes at The New York Times — Republicans have shown "zero interest" and Democrats have no power and "need to focus on retaking Congress." Still, setting aside "realpolitik" considerations for a minute, he adds, "the evidence is now quite strong that Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice," the first article of impeachment against Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

Nixon and Clinton were presented with numbered lists of evidence "meant to show that the president had 'intentionally tried to subvert a federal investigation,'" Leonhardt notes; Nixon's list had nine items, and Clinton's had seven. Leonhardt made a list for Trump, and it had 10 items. "This list is based only on publicly available information," he said, and Special Counsel Robert "Mueller, no doubt, knows more." But even the publicly available information is pretty inculpatory, he added:

Obstruction of justice depends on a person's intent — what legal experts often call "corrupt intent." This list is so damning because it reveals Trump's intent. He has inserted himself into the details of a criminal investigation in ways that previous presidents rarely if ever did. ... And he has done so in ways that show he understands he's doing something wrong. He has cleared the room before trying to influence the investigation. He directed his son to lie, and he himself has lied. [The New York Times]

"Trump is unlikely to face impeachment anytime soon, or perhaps anytime at all," Leonhardt writes. "But it's time for all of us — voters, members of Congress, Trump's own staff — to be honest about what he's done. He has obstructed justice." Leonhardt isn't a firebrand like, say, Paul Krugman, and he isn't alone in suggesting impeachment — on Sunday's This Week, Clinton inquisitor Kenneth Starr said it may be time to start discussing the "I" word for Trump. Make of that what you will.