Just this week, we saw a group of 16 conservative lawyers, including George T. Conway III, step forward to support a swift impeachment inquiry. “We have not just a political candidate open to receiving foreign assistance to better his chances at winning an election, but a current president openly and privately calling on foreign governments to actively interfere in the most sacred of U.S. democratic processes, our elections,” they write. (Where are the rest of the Federalist Society lawyers? Their silence confirms their role in enabling Trump, the antithesis of defending the rule of law.)
Likewise, 17 former Watergate prosecutors have come out to condemn Trump’s conduct and support an impeachment investigation. They write, “We, former members of the Watergate special prosecutor force, believe there exists compelling prima facie evidence that President Trump has committed impeachable offenses. This evidence can be accepted as sufficient for impeachment, unless disproved by any contrary evidence that the president may choose to offer.” They leave the vote to members of Congress, but they make it/crystal-clear that “Trump conditioned protection of the military security of the United States and of an ally (Ukraine) on actions for his personal political benefit” and “Trump subordinated the integrity of our national electoral process to his own personal political interest by soliciting and encouraging foreign government interference in our electoral process, including by Russia and China.” They also argue, “According to the evidence laid out in the Mueller report, Trump engaged in multiple acts of obstruction of justice in violation of federal criminal statutes and of his oath of office to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’”
We have seen the cringeworthy reactions of the vast majority of House and Senate Republicans. There are many more public figures, however, who on a bipartisan basis can speak with one voice including pre-Trump White House counsels, chiefs of staff, attorneys general, and FBI and CIA directors. At some point, we will need all past presidents to speak out.
And of course we are still waiting for former Trump defense secretary Jim Mattis, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, and former national security advisers John Bolton and H.R. McMaster to speak up. (Bolton prefers to keep his bombshells secret for now, a necessary precondition for making money off a book deal. The lack of conscience is truly stunning.)
The point of these joint actions is both to educate the public and to put pressure on current Republican members of Congress. Frankly, if every CIA director from Robert Gates to Leon E. Panetta to David H. Petraeus were to speak up, the self-appointed Senate hawks who enable Trump (e.g., Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Tom Cotton of Arkansas) might be shamed into dropping their Trump pompoms. At the very least, it would be a reminder that in the not-so-distant past, we had honorable men and women who put country above party.