‘Impeachment’ being whispered as a possibility
AS TRUMP TROUBLES SPIRAL, WASHINGTON STARTS WHISPERING ‘IMPEACHMENT’
The I-word has entered the Washington vocabulary. That forbidden word — the 11letter pathway to political damnation, is suddenly, timidly, tiptoeing onto the tongues of capital-dwellers.
A Democrat suggested it on the floor of Congress on Wednesday. A Republican conceded it might be a possibility. And an Independent expressed regret about having to even mention the fear-inducing noun. Impeachment. “The president must be impeached,” said Democrat Al Green, raising it on the congressional floor Wednesday. “This is not something to be taken lightly. And I do not. ... It’s a position of conscience for me.”
The fact that it’s travelled in just one week from the realm of liberal bar-room fantasizing to open discussion in the hallways of Congress indicates the degree of turmoil caused to Trump’s presidency in just a few days.
How did this happen? It’s been less than two weeks since the president held a victory party on the White House lawn, surrounded by jubilant Republicans, as they celebrated the partial passage of a health-reform bill.
But it turns out a president can accumulate lots of damage by firing an FBI director; changing the story about why; becoming the target of a congressional investigation that’s expanding into money-laundering; sharing intelligence with Russia, to the dismay of allies; being accused of interfering with a police probe; chewing out his staff; and seeing enemies within government leak constantly to the press.
Trump fumed about it in a speech to graduates of the Coast Guard Academy.
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” Trump told the ceremony on Wednesday. “No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly.”
A perceptible shift has occurred. It happened the instant news reports surfaced saying that fired FBI director James Comey kept a diary of his interactions with the president and in it the president purportedly asked him to cut short a Russiarelated investigation.
That hint of obstruction of justice was a turning point for many.
Never mind the occasional whisper about impeachment — which remains a long shot. The most immediate worry for the president is the sudden crumbling of the defensive wall around him. His Republican party controls the committees in Congress, and they’re increasingly on his case.
Three committees, all controlled by Republicans, have requested Comey’s records. Two have asked the former FBI director to testify. One has asked for money-laundering records from the U.S. Treasury Department.
A few Republicans have even joined calls for a special prosecutor or independent investigator.
One lawmaker from a ruby-red conservative district, Adam Kinzinger, told CNN: “This has raised real red flags in the level of seriousness. This is about America. It’s not about our political parties, or our political future.”
Most Republicans are still blocking calls for a special prosecutor or investigator. That’s among the half-dozen demands from Democrats, who are using their meagre minority power to push for:
• The White House to release transcripts of the Oval Office conversation with Russian officials;
• The release of any tapes of Comey talking to Trump — which the president has hinted exist; • Comey’s memos; • Comey to testify before Congress.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said it’s about preserving America’s political institutions: “These requests are reasonable. They’re modest. To my colleagues on other side: America needs you. America needs you now ... History will judge us.”