The New York Times on December 28, 2018 published an opinion column by Elizabeth Drew.
Ms. Drew is a journalist based in Washington who covered Watergate scandal and President Richard Nixon.
Following is the editorial column in full followed by the link to the column and then further commentary and analysis:
TITLE: The Inevitability of Impeachment
SUBTITLE COMMENT: Even Republicans may be deciding that the president has become too great a burden to their party or too great a danger to the country.
“An impeachment process against President Trump now seems inescapable. Unless the president resigns, the pressure by the public on the Democratic leaders to begin an impeachment process next year will only increase. Too many people think in terms of stasis: How things are is how they will remain. They don’t take into account that opinion moves with events.
Whether or not there’s already enough evidence to impeach Mr. Trump — I think there is — we will learn what the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has found, even if his investigation is cut short. A significant number of Republican candidates didn’t want to run with Mr. Trump in the midterms, and the results of those elections didn’t exactly strengthen his standing within his party. His political status, weak for some time, is now hurtling downhill.
The midterms were followed by new revelations in criminal investigations of once-close advisers as well as new scandals involving Mr. Trump himself. The odor of personal corruption on the president’s part — perhaps affecting his foreign policy — grew stronger. Then the events of the past several days — the president’s precipitous decision to pull American troops out of Syria, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’s abrupt resignation, the swoon in the stock market, the pointless shutdown of parts of the government — instilled a new sense of alarm among many Republicans.
The word “impeachment” has been thrown around with abandon. The frivolous impeachment of President Bill Clinton helped to define it as a form of political revenge. But it is far more important and serious than that: It has a critical role in the functioning of our democracy.
Impeachment was the founders’ method of holding a president accountable between elections. Determined to avoid setting up a king in all but name, they put the decision about whether a president should be allowed to continue to serve in the hands of the representatives of the people who elected him.
The founders understood that overturning the results of a presidential election must be approached with care and that they needed to prevent the use of that power as a partisan exercise or by a faction. So they wrote into the Constitution provisions to make it extremely difficult for Congress to remove a president from office, including that after an impeachment vote in the House, the Senate would hold a trial, with a two-thirds vote needed for conviction.
Lost in all the discussion about possible lawbreaking by Mr. Trump is the fact that impeachment wasn’t intended only for crimes. For example, in 1974 the House Judiciary Committee charged Richard Nixon with, among other things, abusing power by using the I.R.S. against his political enemies. The committee also held the president accountable for misdeeds by his aides and for failing to honor the oath of office’s pledge that a president must “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
The current presidential crisis seems to have only two possible outcomes. If Mr. Trump sees criminal charges coming at him and members of his family, he may feel trapped. This would leave him the choice of resigning or trying to fight congressional removal. But the latter is highly risky.
I don’t share the conventional view that if Mr. Trump is impeached by the House, the Republican-dominated Senate would never muster the necessary 67 votes to convict him. Stasis would decree that would be the case, but the current situation, already shifting, will have been left far behind by the time the senators face that question. Republicans who were once Mr. Trump’s firm allies have already openly criticized some of his recent actions, including his support of Saudi Arabia despite the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and his decision on Syria. They also openly deplored Mr. Mattis’s departure.
It always seemed to me that Mr. Trump’s turbulent presidency was unsustainable and that key Republicans would eventually decide that he had become too great a burden to the party or too great a danger to the country. That time may have arrived. In the end the Republicans will opt for their own political survival. Almost from the outset some Senate Republicans have speculated on how long his presidency would last. Some surely noticed that his base didn’t prevail in the midterms.
But it may well not come to a vote in the Senate. Facing an assortment of unpalatable possibilities, including being indicted after he leaves office, Mr. Trump will be looking for a way out. It’s to be recalled that Mr. Nixon resigned without having been impeached or convicted. The House was clearly going to approve articles of impeachment against him, and he’d been warned by senior Republicans that his support in the Senate had collapsed. Mr. Trump could well exhibit a similar instinct for self-preservation. But like Mr. Nixon, Mr. Trump will want future legal protection.
Mr. Nixon was pardoned by President Gerald Ford, and despite suspicions, no evidence has ever surfaced that the fix was in. While Mr. Trump’s case is more complex than Mr. Nixon’s, the evident dangers of keeping an out-of-control president in office might well impel politicians in both parties, not without controversy, to want to make a deal to get him out of there”
THE MUELLER RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION
Government officials and others familiar with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference have told the media that he is nearing the conclusion of his investigation and is expected to submit a confidential report to the attorney general as early as mid-February, 2019.
Mueller has charged 33 people and convicted Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump’s former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen of felony crimes of varying degrees and all three have cooperated with the investigation .
Mueller has not answered the fundamental question of whether Trump or anyone around him conspired with the Russian intelligence operations to help his campaign.
Mueller has not made public any evidence proving such a conspiracy, but he has rebutted in court filings Trumps assertion that neither he nor any of his top aides had met or talked with Russians during the 2016 race.
Further, Mueller in court filings has said that Trump knew about his lawyer’s negotiations over a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Trump has denied repeatedly he was doing business with Moscow yet a “letter of intent to build” and signed by Trump shows he lied.
Mueller’s final report is also expected to answer the question of whether President Trump obstructed justice.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Trump’s impeachment may be inevitable, but not his conviction and removal, at least not yet.
The new Democratic controlled US House of Representative took control on January 4, 2019.
There is no doubt that Trump has been a total disaster for the last two years, going from one crisis to another that he himself has created and showing he is not morally and not emotionally fit to be President.
A simple majority in the United States Representatives is all that is required to pass Articles of Impeachment charging Trump with “treason, high crimes and misdemeanors”.
After the midterms, the Democrats have a comfortable majority in the United States House, with a total of 435 house members consisting of 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans and 1 vacancy on a race yet to be called.
A two thirds vote in the United States Senate is required to convict and remove a president after a trial presided over by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Currently there are 100 Senators consisting of 53 Republican Senators, 45 Democratic Senator’s and 2 Independents and 67 Senators must vote to convict to remove.
With 45 US Senate Democrats, 21 Republican Senators will need to vote to convict Trump, which is why so many political pundits say it is unlikely Trump will ever be removed unless the Mueller Russian Investigation clearly shows criminal activity and acts of treason by Trump and his family.
Democrats could very easily overplay their hand and impeach Trump but he could still get reelected in 2020 if the Republican controlled Senate do not go along and do not convict and remove him.
This country went down that road when the Republican controlled House impeached President Bill Clinton but the Senate could not muster the 67 votes to convict and remove Clinton
One thing that would make it more likely than not that Trump is impeached, tried and convicted is if the final Mueller report does in fact find that Trump and his campaign colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 election and makes findings that Trump engaged in “obstruction of justice”.
News sources are suggesting there will be more indictments announced before the Mueller Report is finalized.
On January 4, 2019, it was announced that federal D.C. Court granted a sixth month extension to the Mueller Russian probe grand jury suggesting the Russia probe is not ending anytime soon.
The previous reports that Mueller was wrapping his Russian probe investigation, writing the final report and that the final report would be released mid-February may have been premature.
You do not need a federal grand jury to be in session to write a final report and make recommendations.
The only reason you need an extension is if more subpoenas need to be issued, more evidence needs to be presented to the grand jury and more indictments are forthcoming.
Trump can only pardon for federal offenses, so whatever charges the State of New York, where a state grand jury has been convened, against Trump, his corporations and his sons and daughters cannot be pardoned by him.
If Mueller follows DOJ guidelines, he will not indict a sitting President but he could find obstruction of justice, Trump accepting Russian interference with election and with Mueller recommending impeachment.
The indictments of Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner would only be icing on the cake and hope springs eternal.