Now that the “I” word is being bandied about without apparent fear of jinxing anything, I think it’s important to consider what we are talking about. Here is what the Nation‘s John Nichols had to say about today’s crisis:
“Impeachment is an essential check and balance — arguably the most essential, and powerful. . . . When members of the legislative branch fail to initiate the impeachment process for reasons of political calculation of circumstantial caution, they contribute to the expansion of executive branch authority. Partisans can almost always come up with excuses for avoiding the impeachment process. But when they do, they set the stage for future abuses. In effect, they encourage the imperial presidency to become more imperial. . . .
A failure to hold Donald Trump and his lieutenants to account will, necessarily, create openings for even greater abuses by ensuing presidents. That is why the moment in which we find ourselves is far more urgent than the partisans of both parties . . . may choose to admit. But citizens should be concerned and engaged. The founding generation created the impeachment power to guard against the development of a regal presidency. The presidency we have now is dangerously regal; more authoritarian than responsive, more monarchical than democratic. This is the realization of the worst fears of Thomas Paine and the wiser of those who gathered in 1787.” http://billmoyers.com/story/tough-talk-impeachment/
Impeachment of Donald Trump might end up being necessary — to hold him accountable for his multiple efforts to interfere with the various investigations into his and his campaign’s collusion with Russia. Obstruction of justice is what got Nixon to resign, after all; it is most certainly an impeachable offense. And if all — or even some — of the evidence we have heard about Trump’s attempts to influence, delay, shut down and otherwise obstruct the Russian investigations proves to be true, there is a strong case to be made against him for that impeachable offense.
So yes, let’s keep talking about impeaching Trump for obstruction of justice. And let’s be sure to keep talking about those who enabled and continue to enable that obstruction, and hold them accountable as well. (I’m looking at you, Mike Pence. http://.com/story/enabling-dangerous-president-pence/.)
But unlike Watergate, the cover up here is not necessarily worse than the crime. Impeachment for obstruction of justice gets to the first layer of the con this increasingly Imperial Presidency is perpetrating on the American people. Impeaching Trump, or even Trump and Pence, or even Trump and Pence and Sessions, punishes them for their behavior by removing them from office; and perhaps removing them from office will stanch the wound and stop the bleeding.
What is the remedy, though, for the underlying crime — that of colluding with a hostile foreign power to interfere in our democratic process? How do we fix what Trump and Russia broke when they hacked our election? Because this con goes well beyond the few heads that will roll for obstruction of justice. Let’s not make the mistake of thinking impeachment will do much toward making our Democracy whole again.
So yes, let’s keep talking about impeachment, and let’s cast that net as wide as we can to catch as many enablers as possible (looking at you too, Paul Ryan https://newrepublic.com/article/142761/republicans-tainted-russia-scandal-trump).
But let’s not forget that we got a Trump candidacy not because Putin put him up to it, but because our democracy was already fragile enough to fall for the con. As John Nichols warns, “we have a duty to do more than merely hold Donald Trump to account. Our duty now is to restore a proper balance to the governing of a nation that was never supposed to have an imperial president — or the threats that extend from the royal scam.” http://billmoyers.com/story/tough-talk-impeachment/.
Now is not the time to sit back and watch the show — riveting and bizarre as that show is. We all have our parts to play.