Don’t get your hopes up about impeaching President Donald Trump.
Sorry to be a Debbie Downer during a week in which we all watched with semi-horrified delight at the increasingly speedy political suicide of Trump and his people. But no matter how much treachery he manufactures, the congressional Republicans will never, ever impeach him. Even given his latest series of unforgivable crimes, including obstruction of justice, abuse of power and flagrantly betraying our intelligence partners, the GOP doesn’t care. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell especially doesn’t care — no matter how much the Democrats scream on the floor of the Senate, he doesn’t care.
The only possible route for Trump to be ousted from the presidency is for him to voluntarily resign. Certainly, Republican leadership could ultimately coax him in that direction, as they did with Richard Nixon. But we have no indication whatsoever that Trump, unlike Nixon, really cares about what his party — whether that means McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan or the rest of the Trumpian enablers on Capitol Hill — has to say.
While there will certainly be sane Republicans who will flirt with the impeachment option, getting our hopes up only to be dashed, there won’t be nearly enough to generate a successful vote in the House. Worse, the Senate Republicans under McConnell will never vote to convict him. Ever. The requirement for two-thirds of the Senate to vote “guilty” would currently require 19 Republicans to vote with every single Democrat (plus the two independents). For the sake of reference: During the denouement of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment, the Republicans managed to whip only 45 votes to convict on one count, and 50 votes on another. Not even close.
Reality aside, Trump damn well should be impeached — immediately.
At the very least, there should be more outrage right now — significantly more. There should be viral impeachment scuttlebutt inside nearly every D.C. corridor of power over the fact that Trump allowed two high-level members of a foreign government, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and ambassador (and reputed spy recruiter) Sergey Kislyak, into the Oval Office. The meeting was subsequently photographed, showing the president palling around and laughing with the Russians. Compare this to Trump’s chilly summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who, by the way, is being heralded as the de facto leader of the free world during the Trump crisis. All this despite the nearly incontrovertible fact that Russia deliberately tried to undermine our most sacred democratic institution: our presidential election.
For the sake of argument, forget collusion. Forget whom the Russians were fighting for. We know almost for certain that the Kremlin is waging an undeclared cyberwar against the United States. This is abundantly obvious. It’s a war that continues now, as you read these words. It’s not difficult to grasp that the mission of the war is to illustrate to the world the vulnerability of American constitutional democracy. And it’s working.
This can’t be repeated enough: We’re engaged in a new kind of war against Russia, with the commander in chief as well as millions of unwitting Americans serving as enemy combatants. We were attacked — bottom line.
Yet in the tsunami of coverage this week and last about the Russians — and especially now that we’ve learned Trump blabbed highly classified intelligence to Lavrov and Kislyak within apparent earshot of a TASS photographer during the meeting — it’s been more or less overlooked that Trump welcomed enemy agents into the Oval Office. While there, they appeared to interact with the president of the United States like old college buddies — the troika of co-conspirators with their unnaturally purple faces contorted in laughter, as if they had just finished telling their favorite fart jokes.
You’re probably old enough to remember how former President Barack Obama was excoriated by Fox News and the network’s sugar daddies in the GOP when he was spotted saluting a Marine while holding a cup of coffee in the same hand. Remember the notorious tan suit? Remember when far-right bloggers learned Obama liked arugula salads and gherkins in his egg salad? Remember when Obama was caught chewing gum? Jesus H. Christ — Trump met with an undeclared enemy of the U.S. and exactly nothing has been reported indicating that Trump even mentioned the cyberattacks, much less scolded the Russians to their bloated faces. We know why, of course. We don’t, however, know why there isn’t more public outcry about the very existence of the meeting, given the war.
In the age of Trump, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. There are so many layers of corruption being piled onto the slag heap that it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything — with only the most egregious offenses gurgling to the surface. In this case, however, the gigantic Cyrillic gorilla in the room is that Russia is at war against America, and Trump doesn’t care. He doesn’t care about stopping it. He doesn’t care if he’s seen palling around with the enemy. He doesn’t care about saying anything to Lavrov, Kislyak or Putin because he thinks they like him — and our desperately lonely president loves anyone who pretends to like him. On top of everything else, Trump is actively trying to obstruct the investigation into the extent of the attacks by firing acting Attorney General Sally Yates, New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and FBI Director James Comey. (Check your Twitter feed: There might have been another firing while you’re reading this.)
Again, the best we can hope for is that Trump will fire himself. Look to the end of the Nixon presidency, by way of the end of Sarah Palin’s governorship. Hell, I’m sure Fox News would be thrilled to have him take over the Steve Doocy spot on “Fox & Friends,” and I’m almost certain Trump would enjoy that gig more than the one he has. But we need to ask ourselves why anyone, regardless of party, would support a president who so flagrantly gave aid and comfort to the enemy. Maybe Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed on Wednesday to oversee the Trump-Russia investigation, will tell us more. As for impeachment — I wouldn’t hold my breath.