Somehow the mainstream media collectively decided that the most important question following release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report is whether Democrats will now (right now!) commence impeachment hearings. Not only is this premature (we don’t have the full report nor has Mueller testified), but it’s only half the story — the less interesting half, for that matter.
Yes, Democrats will need to get the entire report and hear from Mueller, then conduct hearings and then decide what to do. The notion they are “avoiding” answering the impeachment question is presumptuous and wrongheaded. Perhaps they just want to conscientiously follow a process that reflects the gravity of their obligations.
However, the “right now” questions for Republicans that need to be advanced in every interview include:
- Is it acceptable for a presidential candidate to seek and/or get help from a hostile foreign power?
- Would you complain if Democrats got such help from, say, China?
- If a foreign power’s help is solicited and received is our democracy damaged?
- Since we will never know if Russian help was the difference between Trump winning and losing, isn’t the legitimacy of his presidency in doubt?
- The president repeatedly lied to the public and told associates to lie in the course of the investigation. What is the remedy for that?
- The special counsel sets out voluminous evidence of obstruction of justice and then leaves it to Congress to decide. Is it your position that there isn’t enough evidence of obstruction of justice or that obstruction of justice shouldn’t be the basis for impeachment (although it was for Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton)?
- Did the president fail in his oath to “take care” that the laws were faithfully executed when he engaged in 10 episodes of conduct Mueller identifies in the obstruction-of-justice section of his report?
- Trump keeps saying “no collusion.” but in fact didn’t Mueller expressly state that wasn’t what he was looking for? If Mueller did not find chargeable evidence of collusion with the Russian government but there is evidence of collusion/conspiracy/coordination between Trump team members and WikiLeaks, what should Congress do?
- Republicans supported impeachment for Bill Clinton when he lied about an affair. Here Trump lied and asked witnesses to lie in a case involving Russian interference with our election. Why should Trump not be treated at least as severely as Clinton?
- Even if you would not impeach the president, how is someone who tried to obstruct an investigation and lied so persistently fit to stand for reelection? How can the GOP embrace him as its 2020 nominee knowing what Mueller found?
These are questions for every Republican candidate for the House and Senate. The media somehow “decided” that the issue is whether Democrats should impeach Trump right this minute, when in fact the question is premature. What is not a premature question is whether Republicans will accept abhorrent behavior much more serious than Clinton’s and will stand behind Trump for reelection after his mendacity and betrayal of our democracy have been exposed.