Each day, new revelations reveal the depths of depravity of the Trump campaign, administration, family, and the President himself. What is also apparent is that in every instance reported by the media, Special Counsel Robert Mueller already knew and has known for some time. The final report when issued will be damning, incriminating and it will be clear to the majority of Americans that it’s time for him to go. The question will be, how to proceed?
The two primary options, excluding the unlikely scenario of Trump’s Cabinet committing mutiny and conspiring with VP Mike Pence to remove him for being unfit mentally or physically, is to have him indicted in criminal court or impeached by Congress.
There is an open-ended legal question as to whether a sitting President can be indicted. The issue has never been settled by the Supreme Court, nor is it delineated in the Constitution. There are two Department of Justice findings suggesting it shouldn’t be done but neither carry any legal weight, they are simply Justice Department rules. Filing an indictment will generate a round of appeals as to whether the indictments themselves are legal and the protracted court battle could last well past the President’s term in office, at which time any indictments could be filed without objection on those grounds.
Impeachment is a political process vs. a legal one. It depends on getting a majority of the House of Representatives to vote for impeachment, after which the Senate would conduct a trial, which would require a two-thirds vote to remove the President. Timing is critical as there would be a world of difference between Impeachment proceedings led by House Republicans as opposed to House Democrats if they regain control of the House, Under Republicans, they would draw up the Articles of Impeachment (what crimes will be considered) which would likely be narrow and limited. The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee would normally conduct the proceedings and could disallow certain areas of questioning as not being directly related to the Articles and could control witnesses testifying before the House. An attempt at Impeachment prior to the mid-term elections would likely face rejection unless the Mueller report is so compelling it cannot be denied. That won’t keep Devin Nunes, Mark Meadows, and others from attempting to reject the Mueller findings and blame some vast deep state conspiracy against Trump. Should Democrats take control of the House in November, Impeachment becomes much more likely but Democrats shouldn’t jump the gun and get ahead of the report from the Special Counsel.
Should the President be impeached; witnesses may be compelled to give testimony that might be excluded from a criminal trial. If the President is later indicted, that testimony could likely be used against the President and the possibility of a successful indictment leading to a guilty verdict intensifies if he were impeached first. Even an unsuccessful Impeachment will bear fruit in later criminal action taken against the President and those surrounding him.
Most importantly, the impeachment will be televised. Not only will America have the chance to hear first hand of Trump’s high crimes, misdemeanors, and moral failures. Each member of Congress will have to stand up and indicate whether they put Party before Country. They will either continue to protect someone that has literally sold out the nation, putting his personal interests and wealth before any consideration of the people. Or, our representatives will do the will of the people. Trump has not been able to do this alone; it took Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Devin Nunes, Mark Meadows, Lindsay Graham, and from time to time even John McCain who found mavericking a little too tough on some crucial votes. Like the village it takes to raise a child, it also took one to support a would-be dictator.
Indictments will still be there awaiting Trump when he finishes his term. In perhaps wishful thinking, I find it hard to believe our government will stand for allowing him to pardon himself. Criminal and civil actions will follow Trump the rest of his life and there is no one more deserving. For the moment, using the legal means of impeachment, we must rid ourselves of this menace before he does any more harm.