No, really, it is clearly time to start impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, who is currently pretending to be president of the United States.
There is yet no evidence to suggest that the Republicans in the Senate are ready to vote to remove him, such is the depth of their loyalty to their Party and their incomprehensible image of the nation they want to have power over.
But having the House Judiciary Committee begin hearings on impeachment would provide a strong basis from which to start demanding evidence from the administration that they are currently refusing to supply, potentially setting up a court battle that would really test Republican Party loyalty, as two of the “conservative” justices on the Supreme Court should recuse themselves as Trump appointees — although they may well not, given that ethics is not something they much care about — and there is clear precedent for the Court to order the president to comply with valid subpoenas.
Beginning impeachment proceedings might also push Trump into further paroxysms of insanity that would finally leave Republicans with no choice but to press for his resignation or vote to remove him in an impeachment trial.
Most of the attention currently falls on his hand picked hatchet man as the person who is doing to dirty work, Attorney General William Barr, but it only makes sense to surmise that Barr consults frequently with Trump and everyone agrees that he is doing Trump’s bidding in refusing to give to Congress the report he got from special prosecutor Robert Mueller, now more than two weeks ago. In concealing possible evidence that Trump obstructed justice, Barr himself is also obstructing justice, making himself susceptible to impeachment, it is well to note.
If, as Mueller and other Trump toadies claim, the Mueller report entirely exonerates Trump, then they should be eager to hand it to the House Judiciary Committee in response to impeachment proceedings.
Meanwhile, the logic for seeing Trump’s tax returns is similar to the logic for seeing the entire Mueller report — they may show evidence of criminal conduct by Trump that Congress and the public has a right to know about.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whose agency includes the Internal Revenue Service, custodian of Trump’s tax returns, got into a spat with the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters (D-CA), whom he treated with a notable lack of respect. The argument on its face involved the amount of time Mnuchin spent before the Committee and future appearances, but the subject of Trump’s tax returns had come up, after news reports that Trump and his toadies in the White House planned to refuse to give his returns to the House, which has formally requested them.
We have long known that Trump is entirely ignorant of the specific principles and the philosophy behind the U.S. Constitution, which he swore to protect and defend when he took office. He has exhibited this ignorance repeatedly. It is all the more embarrassing for the better informed, seemingly intelligent adults, such as Barr and Mnuchin, who should know that the division of the U.S. government into three branches, legislative, executive, and judicial was specifically a device for the purpose of preventing any of them from acquiring too much power. Allowing any single party, especially one whose members prize party loyalty above all else, to control both the legislative and executive branches, has the effect of reducing what we call “separation of powers,” as we saw during the first two years of the Trump presidency.
Whether the purpose was to restore some of the balance the Founders intended, or just to register their disgust with how badly Trump is doing his job at trying to be president, the fact remains that U.S. voters turned out in record numbers in 2018 to put the Democrats into control of the House of Representatives.
Thus, both legally and politically, neither Barr nor Mnuchin has any good reason to conceal Trump’s illegal conduct.
But now, Trump has committed an impeachable offense in full view of the public. Multiple reports have emerged that he hatched a plan to move persons in the custody of the Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE) agency to sanctuary cities, or cities that officially refuse to cooperate with ICE enforcement efforts as a statement of opposition to their tactics and the underlying law. Apparently the idea did not get carried out. Had ICE followed through on this noxious idea, they would have arguably infringed the rights of those persons to due process of law.
Worse still, we now have reports that Trump told the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection that he would pardon that individual in the event that he suffered prosecution and conviction for carrying out Trump’s order to deny admission to asylum seekers at the border in defiance of a federal court order. Trump and his toadies have since denied the report, but it is not out of character for Trump and people working for him. In the immediate aftermath of the notorious Muslim ban, there were multiple reports of border guards ignoring orders from federal judges to stop enforcing the ban.
Whether Trump really promised the pardon is a question the House of Representatives has valid reason to try to answer more definitively than just the rote denial by Trump and his toadies. If he did, that is obviously obstruction of justice.
There is now a list of reasons to initiate impeachment hearings against Trump.
The House should proceed immediately.