Impeach him, impeach him, impeach him.
That’s the growl, no, the roar of the moment. It comes from every direction, though mainly of course, from the left. It is aimed at President Donald Trump and is loaded with politics and ideology even if here and there one can spot evidential possibilities. The heart of the fury is not just the charge that Trump is a sexist, racist, criminal psycho unfit for the White House, but that he is destroying our republic.
Here is an obvious irony, seeing as how the attackers are doing damage, too. Consider intelligence agency insiders feloniously leaking classified information meant to provide impeachment material. Look at the FBI, our proud federal law enforcement agency refusing to enable congressional oversight by releasing subpoenaed material related to the Trump-Russia probe.
Meanwhile, we have special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director splashing mud all over a reputation many once said was sterling. That would be his own. He has enlisted his good friend James Comey — also a former FBI director — as a star witness, which happens to be highly questionable. Recusal is called for, say some, noting that Mueller could have a special animus toward Trump because of his firing of this friend. It is thought, too, that he might be reluctant to pursue matters in which this witness may himself have gone astray.
Then there are all the Democrats Mueller has surrounded himself with as he investigates the Russian ties of a Republican president. Not the least of the biased hands on deck was an FBI investigator reportedly dismissed because of anti-Trump messages digitally transmitted to his mistress.
The latest Mueller revelation is that Michael Flynn, initially named by Trump as his national security adviser, lied to the FBI when he said he had not talked to the Russian ambassador to the United States before the inauguration. Flynn now says he did, has pleaded guilty to the lie and says he will cooperate with Mueller in every way possible. Therein lies dread. Who knows what he knows?
But except for a law ignored for 218 years and violated by such worthies as former President Jimmy Carter, Flynn did nothing wrong in his gab fest with the ambassador. (The law in question says no private citizen should negotiate with a foreign power, and Carter did so, as one example, in a meeting with a leader of Hamas.) Mueller asked that Russia not respond in any exaggerated way to Obama sanctions imposed for its alleged intervention in the 2016 election, and it didn’t. Why Flynn lied is a puzzle.
The whole Russian collusion thing has not conjured up much backing and isn’t against the law. Lefties like to say Congress can still impeach, and it can if it wants to betray what the Constitution says. The more emphasized issue of the moment is obstruction of justice, but, as concerns Trump and his executive privileges, this is murky as a matter of law.
Could a scarier issue for Trump be his reference to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas during a ceremony honoring Navaho World War II veterans? Believe it or not, a histrionic historian says it could be used in an article of impeachment. There’s no question this failed joke about Warren’s unsubstantiated claims of native ancestry was obnoxious under the circumstances, but to point to it as a reason for ridding D.C. of Trump is absurd hysteria.
Look also at billionaire Tom Steyer pushing impeachment on TV and fearfully saying Trump has brought us to the brink of nuclear war, himself maybe at the brink of emotional collapse. A president who actually furthered the North Korean threat was one named Barack Obama, who handled that as incompetently as he handled issues in Iran, Syria, Iraq and Libya.
Trump has outrageous faults and they are not made OK by Obama’s equally disturbing autocratic misadventures. But if a Trump impeachment comes, it had better be justified. If it isn’t, the republic could be in serious danger.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.