Sohn: There's already lots of 'unless' for impeachment talk

Sohn: There's already lots of 'unless' for impeachment talk

March 13th, 2019 by Pam Sohn in Opinion Times

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is ratcheting up her objections to trying to remove President Donald Trump from office. "He's just not worth it," she said. (Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times)

Photo by SARAH SILBIGER

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may or may not be right to dismiss — at least for now — a push to impeach President Donald Trump. But she certainly is right when she says, "He's just not worth it."

She means he's not worth the divisive distraction that seeking his impeachment now — before we learn the results of ongoing investigations — would create.

Here is exactly what she said: "Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he's just not worth it."

She gave herself an out, you'll notice: " [U]nless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan "

Don't misunderstand our position. We'd love to see Donald Trump impeached. But we'd rather see him gone. Impeached would only be satisfactory if it also meant his removal from office. Locked up would be a bonus.

There is no doubt that there will be something "so compelling and overwhelming." There already is for many Americans. (See the laundry list of investigations and scandals below.) The trick, however, is reaching the "and bipartisan" portion of Pelosi's impeachment criteria.

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin summed it up well.

"Impeachment isn't just divisive; it's hugely unpopular. In most polling, more than 60 percent of voters disapprove of the idea. There is zero indication so far that Republicans are going to break with him so, even if the House were to impeach him, the Senate wouldn't reach the two-thirds threshold required (and probably not even a majority) to remove him. Trump would then declare victory and Democrats would look feckless."

Unless.

Let's just highlight the myriad ongoing investigations and known scandals:

* Both special counsel Robert Mueller and Congress are investigating the counterintelligence matter of Russia's interference in our 2016 election. Trump calls it a witch hunt, but just to be clear, Mueller was authorized to investigate a hostile foreign power's deliberate subversion of U.S. democracy to get Trump elected president.

So far, Mueller has found nearly three dozen witches, including more than two dozen Russians, three Russian companies and six of Trump's campaign associates — right up to his campaign manager. And guess what? All of the Trump associates had Russia connections and lied about them.

* So did at least three of Trump's family members, according to many published reports (and even some of their own admissions). Don Jr. arranged a meeting with a Russian lawyer offering "dirt" on Hillary Clinton and brought to the meeting Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump's campaign manager (now-convicted Paul Manafort). And don't forget Trump's own siren call looking straight into a campaign camera: "Russia, if you're listening "

* The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives also is digging deep into questions of whether Trump's business profits violate the Constitution and create foreign policy conflicts of interest.

* Congress is asking additional questions about how far Trump went in his financial dealings with Russia during the campaign. Remember, this is something his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, lied about to Congress, saying first that negotiations for a Trump Tower in Moscow ended when Trump became the GOP nominee, when in fact talks continued throughout the campaign and at least right up until Trump took office — something even Trump has now acknowledged despite previously saying repeatedly that he had no deals with Russia.

* Add to this that federal prosecutors already, in Cohen's case, have accused Trump (as Individual-1) of ordering Cohen to commit a crime. That has lawmakers drilling down into Trump's involvement in conspiring with an illegal hush money scheme — even writing checks to pay for it even after he became president. Not only was that hush money a campaign finance violation, it also was a manipulation of the election — a cover-up to withhold important information that might have influenced the election's outcome.

* Recall the numerous and plain-sight obstructions of justice by Trump, who finally acknowledged that he fired former FBI Director Jim Comey over "the Russia thing," when Comey wouldn't drop the probe of former campaign adviser and later National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn, too, was indicted by Mueller for lying about talking with Russia about dropping sanctions even before Trump took office. Like Cohen, Flynn pleaded guilty and has been cooperating with the Mueller investigation. Trump also has dangled pardons, tweeted witness intimidations and forced out his attorney general, Jeff Sessions (another campaign adviser), after and because Sessions properly recused himself in the Russia probe because he, too, had contacts with Russia.

We're running out of print space here, and we've not even gotten to things that are not crimes but still can be impeachable offenses — things such as attacks on the freedom of press, attacks on the FBI, the Department of Justice and judges; a disastrous child-separation policy; carelessness and abuse of power in handling security clearances; incompetent foreign policy. All of these are corrosive to liberty and to our constitutional system.

That's a lot of "unless" with which to work.

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