On May 3, I wrote an op-ed for the Kansas City Star, titled, “Trump, Pence are Illegitimate. Impeach Them.” It finally appeared in print and online on May 23. It was the first time a current or former Republican member of congress had called for Trump’s removal. Fast forward 181 days later, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution setting forth the rules of an impeachment inquiry.
While I was pleased with this turn of events, many Americans remain uneasy about impeachment. They shouldn’t be. The founding fathers saw impeachment as a bulwark against tyranny.
Back in May I wrote that the Mueller Report concluded the Trump-Pence ticket asked for and willingly accepted Russia’s intervention in the election on their behalf. In addition, their campaign chairman colluded with a Russian intelligence asset, sharing polling and a written strategy on how to use the information. And the Russians did just that. This information was contained in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s final report along with ten possible counts of obstruction of justice committed by Trump. That was enough for me to call for both Trump and Pence to be impeached and removed from office.
Today there is even more credible evidence of collusion between the campaign and Russia — via WikiLeaks. Testimony at Roger Stone’s on going trial on federal charges of making false statements to the House Intelligence Committee, committing obstruction of justice and witness tampering, is solidifying Stone’s role as intermediary between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign. We will undoubtedly learn more about the collusion between the campaign and Russia/WikiLeaks connection as the trial continues.
At the time my piece was published, public sentiment was significantly against impeachment but I argued that after hearing public testimony, Americans would come around to support impeachment. I had politically survived the Watergate scandal but it almost ended my budding political career during my 1974 re-election campaign to the Missouri House of Representatives. Nixon was to cost the party close to a decade of support.
The House’s impeachment resolution passed on Oct. 31 appears not to be focused on the findings in the Mueller Report but rather triggered by the disclosure of a telephone call between President Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine in which Trump asked for the Ukrainian government to find dirt on a leading political opponent of Trump’s.
But the House investigation has produced more than a phone call. The call was actually the culmination of a criminal conspiracy set in motion and carried out by President Trump, his “personal lawyer” Rudy Giuliani, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, and the president’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. The criminal extortion/bribe was made in the phone call by President Trump under color of his office and was leveraged by a $400 million appropriation approved by congress but held up by the White House for Ukraine to defend itself from a Russian invasion.
As the public hearings begin, public approval for impeachment and removal is about evenly split. Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who will be presiding, should be even-handed but firm with the Republicans on the committee. And it would be wise for Republicans to avoid the farcical theatrics they engaged in that created a circus like atmosphere at a previous hearing on the Mueller Report. Impeachment is serious business and the public views it as such.
I am confident that by the end of the televised public hearings and the passage of Articles of Impeachment by the full House, there will be overwhelming public support for the Senate to convict and remove the 45th president of the United States. There is just too much damning evidence of presidential abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and criminal activity through extortion.
At this point in the Watergate scandal, GOP congressional leaders told Nixon his political support was evaporating and that he should resign. Maybe that scenario will play out again when senate Republicans finally recognize the political headwinds are blowing strongly against them. But if a resignation is not forthcoming, we must ask whether enough Republican senators, in the face of the overwhelming evidence and public support for conviction, will finally put their country not only over party, but over Trump. The answer to that question will determine if we are able to continue as a democracy.
Tom Coleman represented Missouri as a Republican in the United States House from 1976-1993. He has taught as an adjunct professor at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and at American University in Washington, D.C.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.