There was a brief bit of excitement as the first round of indictments came out of Robert Muller’s investigation a few days ago. Some on The Left started doing a happy dance, hoping that this was just the beginning, and the dragnet would very shortly close in around the president and force the start of the impeachment process.
Well, it’s not that simple. There’s still a lot more to do and uncover, and even then it might not be enough for an impeachment. Sure, Trump’s sympathies (such as they are) are pro-Russia. But that, in and of itself, isn’t a crime. One would need direct evidence that he conspired with Russia. Or that members of his campaign team did, and he knew about it and did nothing.
Given his recent panic over the investigation, it seems as if things are hitting close to home. Perhaps he really does have something to worry about, or he’s so insecure that he cannot handle any challenge to his authority. Either way, there are two things we need to watch out for.
First, he could pardon everyone. It’s technically within his authority to do so, and he clearly doesn’t understand that a presidential pardon is supposed to be an act of mercy, and not a “get out of jail free” card. If he tries it, it will be more evidence of his unsuitability for office (abuse of powers, and all that). Also note that acceptance of a pardon means you can no longer “plead the Fifth” in any trial or investigation related to your crimes. And withholding information should qualify as contempt of court or obstruction of justice, which would be new crimes not covered by the pardon!
(legal experts would want to check on that)
The other thing is that he could try to fire Robert Muller and close down the investigation. That would be a BLATANT case of obstruction of justice, and should should in and of itself start the impeachment ball rolling. Remember Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre”? This had better wind up having the same effect.
A vital point to remember in all of this is that impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. The House of Representatives prepares the indictment – the Articles of Impeachment – and passes them on to the Senate for the trial. And as long as the Republicans control both houses of Congress, it’s not going to happen.
It’s going to take Trump’s doing something really outrageous for the process to even start to be considered. GOP House members are too beholden to their base (i.e. they’re afraid they won’t get re-elected if they are openly anti-Trump). Their base is whipped into a panic by bogus outrage from the right-wing media (FOX News, Breitbart, et al.). The right-wing media makes more money the more scared their audience is….
Or, the Democrats will have to take control of the House in the mid-term elections.
Unfortunately, the Democrats are being torn apart by the fallout from Clinton’s defeat.
The radical left thinks they lost because they weren’t “leftist” enough. So they’re trying to drag the party more towards what is, in effect, socialism – Universal Basic Income, Single Payer health care, and all that. On the other side, the party core is looking at all those Americans in the middle (the other people Clinton was talking about in her “Basket of Deplorables” speech) * – you know, the people in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania who are more worried about what happens to them if the only major business in their town closes up shop than some nebulous plan to make college tuition free or who pays for birth control – and wondering what they can do to attract people who never were crazy about Trump, but are still conservative enough to not want to support outright socialists.
Meanwhile, the Democrats still have to reach out to minorities in a way that energizes them and gets them out to vote in numbers big enough to overwhelm GOP attempts at gerrymandering and voter suppression.
Is it any wonder we’re in a mess?
This whole mishegas – the Trump Presidency, the Resistance, Robert Muller and the Justice League of Extraordinary Investigators – is nowhere close to ending.
Let’s hope we, as a nation of laws and fairness and justice and decency, can survive it.
* It seems unfortunate that the Democratic leadership has this bad habit of saying phrases in the middle of a speech or discussion that the GOP can rip totally out of context, pervert the intent, and then beat them over the head with: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.” “What difference does it make?” “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” I don’t know how to fix this.