Impeachment grounds now clearly exist
The time has come to impeach President Donald Trump and have him removed from office.
To explain why such an extreme act is now warranted, it might be helpful to begin by recalling the first article of impeachment filed against President Richard Nixon, which read in part:
“Agents of the Committee for the Re-election of the President committed unlawful entry of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, District of Columbia, for the purpose of securing political intelligence. Subsequent thereto, Richard M. Nixon, using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of such illegal entry; to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.”
This alleged fact pattern bears a remarkable resemblance to the current situation we now see with President Trump.
For example, by allegedly pressuring then FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into Micheal Flynn and then openly admitting in a nationally televised interview with Lester Holt to having Comey fired because of the Russia investigation, Trump has given little room for any alternative explanation other than one which illustrates an abuse of his power as president, the purpose of which was to obstruct an ongoing investigation.
The justification of an obstruction of justice-based impeachment charge only grows when one considers what we know about Trump’s self-admitted efforts to obfuscate the facts behind the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russian operatives.
We now know that Trump dictated statements on behalf of his son that were meant to misrepresent the reasons for the Trump team taking the meeting, which was to secure compromising information on a political rival from a hostile foreign power.
What’s more, Trump’s incessant undermining of the Mueller investigation and his demands to end it outright add even more fuel to the already raging fire that is the case against him for obstruction of justice.
For example, Trump has called the Mueller probe a “witch hunt’’ over 84 times since it began and he openly and routinely pressures his staff to end it. Any of these above described actions alone should give Congress enough to press for impeachment based on an obstruction of justice charge. Taken together, these acts paint a picture of a president who has engaged in a persistent, systematic, and energetic assault on a lawful investigation of election interference.
Bear in mind that there need not be any underlying criminal activity for an obstruction charge to be lawfully merited. All that need be proven for an obstruction charge are acts that purposefully impeded an investigation.
So, even if one were to submit that “no collusion’’ with Russia ever occurred, a case that is increasingly hard to make in light of the evidence, Trump’s highly transparent attempts to obstruct an ongoing investigation more than give Congress justification to impeach and then remove him from office.
If that weren’t enough to justify impeachment, Trump now faces additional charges that, if proven, should justify his immediate removal from office.
In Micheal Cohen’s recent plea deal, Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer admitted to two counts of violating campaign finance law at the direction of then candidate Trump. These are not “fake crimes’’ as President Trump contends, these are very real and very serious felonies that now have his lawyer facing up to five years in prison and are more than serious enough to rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors,’’ which the Constitution lists as grounds for impeachment.
Nicholas Barry Creel is lecturer of political science at Texas A&M University San Antonio.