#impeach45: Is impeachment within reach?
There are a couple of realities that are keeping impeachment out of reach
Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters has intimated that the president’s actions, coupled with the public outcry, put impeachment in play. Photo: C-SPAN
The abrupt firing of FBI Director may open a new path to impeachment for two key reasons
The Donald J. Trump presidency has inspired a spirit of protest not seen for a president in decades. Early actions have proved to be serious bumps in the road.
For instance, the president’s Executive Order temporarily blocking refugees from seven countries from entering the country, and indefinitely blocking Syrian refugees, was immediately blocked, as was a watered down attempt to replace that order.
From the start, some Democrats have called for the president’s impeachment. Liberal stalwart Congresswoman Maxine Waters has intimated that the president’s actions, coupled with the public outcry, put impeachment in play.
Even then, there are a couple of realities that are keeping impeachment out of reach. First, the fact that both houses of Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate) are controlled by Republicans. In this time of hyper-partisanship, it is hard to see a scenario where Republican members of Congress would lead the charge to impeach a Republican president; those Republicans would want to give Trump every opportunity to succeed. As a matter of sheer math; impeachment articles (charges) would need to be brought in the House of Representatives with a majority vote, and conviction would be in the Senate with a two-thirds majority vote.
While there are continuous (and legitimate) questions as to the president’s temperament and competence, these issues do not necessarily mean President Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors warranting impeachment. However, Trump’s recent abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey may put matters on the road of impeachment as a real possibility for two key reasons.
Reason one: Things Change. In another example of the president’s failure to develop “spin control,” the White House has disseminated confusing and contradictory stories why the president fired Director Comey. While the initial story was that the new Deputy Atty. General Rod Rosenstein, made the call to fire Comey, reports that Rosenstein threatened to resign two weeks into his new job — if the firing was hung on him — led to Trump admitting that it has been on his mind to move on Comey for a while.
More to the point. Sources in and around the situation state that it was Comey’s failure to assure personal loyalty to the president and the escalation of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with the Russians during the 2016 election cycle that were the collective last straw sealing the director’s fate. Now, while temperament and competence, in general, are not “crimes,” per se worthy of impeachment, obstruction of justice is.
The fact that the president fires Comey while he heads the organization doing the most independent investigation of his campaign certainly smells bad at best, and illegal at worst.
Reason two: People Change. The key to this situation may be Republican Congressman Jason E. Chaffetz, who heads the House Oversight Committee. This committee infamously spent enormous time and public resources investigating the Hillary Clinton email scandal and promised to continue investigating her well into her presidency. But she lost. Now, Chaffetz has announced he will not run for re-election, with wide speculation he wants to prepare to run for governor of Utah in 2020.
Chaffetz has actually called for an investigation into the Comey firing—the first Republican to do so. A thorough investigation of this issue could very well yield evidence that President Trump sought to thwart the Russia investigation in both ways perceived (i.e. the Comey firing) and ways unknown. In other words, in a situation where many already see smoke, an investigation truly open to where the facts lead (perhaps like the FBI investigation) may finally find the fire.
It is indeed ironic that Trump would engage in an act of “strong leadership” that in fact both draws more attention to the issue of Russian collusion that he wanted to die down, and raises the most pertinent questions of potentially illegal activity, yet.
In a time where many Republicans question Comey’s firing and wonder how the government will survive the continued chaos of the Trump presidency, Chaffetz’ intent to retire and his desire to appear independent may give him the freedom to actually become a gatekeeper in the road to impeachment.