Until recently, suggestions that Donald Trump be impeached were primarily met with what seemed a reasonable suggestion: Wait for Robert Mueller to finish his report. After all, conducting an impeachment process at the same time that the special counsel is in the process of investigation seems like overkill. Even if it is exactly what happened with Nixon. And Clinton.
However, given that recent information has revealed that Trump is under investigation as an agent of the Russian government working against the interests of the United States, compounded by the overnight news that Trump is alleged to have ordered his attorney to lie to Congress about his connections to Russia, Democrats seem much more willing to proceed straight to the kicking-Donald-Trump-out-of-Washington part of the agenda. Which seems reasonable. After all, even if the charges that Trump suborned perjury in an attempt to obstruct justice turn out not to be true, there’s still more than enough to create a laundry list of impeachment articles.
Impeachment now seems to be in the wind. In fact, it seems safe to say that it would at this point take a compelling argument from Democratic leadership—or an equally compelling statement that Mueller was going to wrap up Real Soon Now—to halt at least the opening rounds of impeachment proceedings. Because … damn. At this very moment, the American government is being purposely shut down, at a cost of 0.2 percent of economic growth per week, by a man who is suspected of acting to harm the United States. It’s exactly the kind of position that makes all those “you can’t indict the president, because it would be distracting” arguments so ludicrous. As an alternative to an indictment that could be brought by a prosecutor and determined by a grand jury that is not under a high-powered microscope, the government is in the position of following partisan procedures that will take, at best, months and which, when they finally leave the House, are 99.95 percent certain to run into a brick wall of Trump-is-the-hill-on-which-we-die supporters in the Senate. And in the meantime, the economy keeps shrinking by 0.2 percent. Per week. And 800,000 people don’t get paid. And national security, which is supposed to be the big concern here, goes to absolute … whatever.
We’re at a point where Republicans are left arguing that it’s not Donald Trump’s intention to murder the nation, even though he does have his hands around the nation’s throat. And he is squeezing. And she is starting to look a little pale.
So, even if Republicans are still committed to fall on their swords rather than face the facts about the man at the head of their party, Democrats are preparing to move. And that’s a good thing.
The most reasonable series of reactions is likely that from Texas Representative Joaquin Castro.
If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached.
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) January 18, 2019
That sets a simple test. Democrats have already launched investigations of this statement in both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, and those investigations could simply segue into the first steps toward impeachment if they turn up pay dirt. That dirt may not even require all that much digging, since the questions put to attorney general nominee William Barr strongly suggest that something along these lines was already in the pocket of Democratic senators.
It’s taken a lot to get to this point. Trump has already crossed line after line after line, creating disasters and admitting to actions that each seemed potential camel-breaking straws. But the camel appears to be well and truly down this time. And unless something extraordinary happens, it will stay that way.
And Democrats should move as quickly as the evidence allows because … she really is looking more than a little pale.