The perils of not impeaching a rogue president

For a guy claiming to be the most innocent man ever, President Trump’s sure working hard to cover up his innocence.

Last week he flip-flopped like a carp in the sand about having The Grand Exonerator, Robert Mueller, testify before Congress. Apparently, facts might confuse people. Nor does he want former White House Counsel Don McGahn telling Congress how Trump twice tried to get him to fire Mueller — the kind of obstruction that led to Nixon’s exile.

He’s also fighting a lawful order to release his tax returns and suing banks to prevent them from turning over subpoenaed financial records that would tell us if he’s compromised by Russian debt. To coin a phrase, “they’ve got dirt,” but Trump wants it swept under the rug.

You can see the corruption from your house. He’s turned the presidency into a business opportunity and Mar-a-Lago into a cash cow. Ivanka’s signed lucrative deals in China, while suicidal American farmers bear the brunt of Chinese tariffs. Kushner was bailed out of a sinking real estate deal by fishy Qatar cash, and we know the Teflon Don lied about Moscow Trump Tower negotiations.

Ignored in this cesspool is the glaring reality that our democracy was attacked by Russia. This president, who took an oath to defend America, knew it, embraced it, and continues to defend Putin instead of his country. And Republicans continue to defend this sell-out.

I distrusted his economics, but I never doubted The Gipper’s willingness to stand against our enemies. Where have you gone, Ronnie Reagan? This nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Convention has it that impeachment is a terrible idea. Nearly 60 percent of Americans oppose it, according to a CNN poll. Still, the same poll reveals that nearly half of those surveyed believe the president committed obstruction of justice. They deserve to know what happened. To quote Donald Sutherland in JFK, “Remember, fundamentally, people are suckers for the truth, and the truth is on your side, Bubba.”

Despite administration efforts to cover up, deflect, obfuscate and stonewall, the Kentucky Fried Chickens are coming home to roost. Hundreds of former federal prosecutors, Republicans and Democrats, signed a letter saying that if Barr hadn’t declared Trump above the law, he’d already be indicted.

Mueller will eventually testify, and that terrifies Trump. As more evidence emerges, the case for impeachment becomes certain, although Republicans will fight like they’re defending Custer. Would it be bad politics for the Democrats? It shouldn’t be a political calculation at all. To ignore criminality is to normalize it and give it permanent residency in the Oval Office. The oversight powers of Congress must be upheld for democracy to endure.

Nixon whispered to the threat of an authoritarian presidency. Trump’s increased the volume to 11. He’s tested the Constitution like a burglar casing the joint, exposing cracks and question marks, but the tools are there to begin rebuilding what he’s broken.

Impeachment is an inoculation against authoritarianism. The process requires faith in the system and faith in the decency of the American people, most of whom, at their core, regardless of party, still believe that no one is above the law.

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