The scandal is metastasizing: Trump is threatening to illegally hunt down the whistleblower; it’s been revealed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listened on the July 25 call and is now preventing his underlings from testifying; and we now know that Attorney General William Barr traveled the globe to induce foreign governments to buy into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denial of responsibility for election interference. So now, much more is needed from Romney. (Remember what Pompeo, Barr and Trump are attempting to “prove” is the entirely false assertion made by Putin and echoed by Trump in Helsinki. Barr is gallivanting around the globe to look for Putin character witnesses.)
Romney can play a critical role in ensuring Trump’s presidency ends swiftly and our democracy is preserved. Here I write directly to ask his help:
Dear Sen. Romney,
Refusing to parrot the hear-no-collusion-see-no-collusion attitude of your Republican colleagues responding to the released July 25 transcript puts you in a small group of Republican lawmakers who have not jettisoned all moral authority. You know, as your colleagues do not (or pretend not to know), that it is a fundamental breach of the president’s oath of office to seek foreign collaborators to determine the outcome of the election.
After Trump publicly acknowledged much of what is in the transcript, we have learned that the White House stashed the transcript in a super-confidential place to avoid detection, is now blocking witnesses from testifying, and has threatened to expose the whistleblower’s identity in contravention of law. He even suggests that person is akin to a foreign spy. You know the grounds for possible impeachment now include soliciting foreign help in an election, obstruction of justice and witness intimidation (as well as violation of the whistleblower statute). You know the president’s conduct is gravely wrong and inimical to the office he holds.
Moreover, it is apparent that Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are deeply involved in Trump’s plotting. They continue to obstruct the investigation by prohibiting witnesses from testifying and denying their knowledge of events.
The situation is intolerable in no small part because Trump will continue this conduct until removed. If he continues in office, the results of the 2020 election may therefore be tainted. Moreover, the longer Pompeo and Barr remain in office, the longer the obstruction to the investigation will remain.
The Republican Party seems determined to go down with the sinking ship, taking anyone on the ballot with an "R" next to his or her name down with it. They seem insistent on further dividing the country and perpetrating out-and-out lies. Both because you have not sullied yourself by participating in such conduct and because you are immune to intimidation and threats (you’re not on the ballot for five years and you don’t need this job anyway), you are uniquely situated to do several critical things.
I suggest that in a speech to the country you do the following:
- Confirm that Trump’s comments as recorded in the transcript are morally reprehensible and the legitimate basis for impeachment.
- Reaffirm the unanimous verdict of the intelligence community on Russian meddling and decry Barr and Pompeo’s use of time and taxpayer money to undermine that claim, which amounts taking Putin’s side and discrediting every U.S. intelligence agency and department.
- Call for Barr and Pompeo to step down, because they are implicated in the very conduct that is now the subject of a serious and legitimate investigation and are intoxicated with conspiracy thinking. Should they remain and continue to interfere with the investigation, the House would appropriately seek impeachment of these two officials.
- Debunk the screwy conspiracy theories that animate the administration and distort the president’s power of reasoning and performance of his duties.
- Make clear that Trump under no circumstances should be nominated for four more years. One can only imagine what hellish, authoritarian conduct he would engage in if given a second term.
- Call on the GOP to reverse its illegal cancellation of presidential primaries in several states, giving qualified candidates (perhaps a governor) the opportunity to throw their hats into the ring.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) likes to say the “times have found us” in reiterating the solemn duty of the House. I would suggest they have found you too. In the absence of rational leadership from the GOP, the task falls to you to redirect your party and Trump’s followers back to reality and help bring this awful chapter in the history of the presidency to a swift conclusion.
A fellow American