What Donald Trump doesn't get about impeachment
Posted December 12, 2018 11:07 a.m. EST
(CNN) — President Donald Trump has a pat line when asked about whether he's worried about impeachment.
It usually goes something like this: "It's hard to impeach somebody who hasn't done anything wrong and who's created the greatest economy in the history of our country. I'm not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened."
That's Trump talking on Tuesday in the Oval Office to reporters from Reuters. And there's just a lot of things wrong with his statement.
1) Even before special counsel Robert Mueller releases his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, we already know that federal prosecutors believe that Trump has, in fact, done something wrong. In the filing by the Southern District of New York last Friday, prosecutors made clear that they believe Trump coordinated and directed six-figure payouts to two women who were threatening to take their allegations that they had affairs with Trump public during the 2016 campaign.
Trump's former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, has already pleaded guilty to two charges of campaign finance violations for his role in creating a shell company through which those hush payments were moved so as to keep them hidden from public view. In his plea deal, he said that Trump directed and coordinated the payments -- a fact that federal prosecutors appear to have corroborated.
2) Impeachment isn't based on how well -- or poorly -- you are doing as president. It's not a popularity contest. It's based on whether the Congress believes that the President has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. That remains very much open to debate, as incoming Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler, D-New York, made clear over the weekend; "They would be impeachable offenses," Nadler said of the campaign finance allegations. "Whether they're important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question."
3) By virtually any measure you can think of, we do not currently have the "greatest economy in the history of our country." A minor point, maybe, in the broader sweep of Trump's campaign of untruths -- but worth noting nonetheless.
4) The President of the United States casually floating the idea of a revolution if he is impeached is deeply irresponsible. Trump is the leader of the country -- not of a single party. By planting the seed that a revolt could happen among his base if he happened to be impeached, Trump makes it much more likely that just such a thing will happen.
As always with Trump, it's impossible to know how much of his professed ignorance about the prospects of being impeached is born of an honest misunderstanding of the current situation, or a willful blindness to the fact that the walls just keep closing in on him.
On the Senate floor on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said that Trump lives in a "cocoon" -- never exposed to an honest assessment of his own political prospects and peril.
Maybe so. There's no doubt that throughout his life Trump has actively sought to surround himself with enablers who stay close to him by making sure they are never the bearer of bad news, that it's always sunny for the President in their long-range forecasts.
Whatever the reason, it seems clear from his public comments that Trump doesn't grasp the fact that he is already in real political danger -- and that his situation could grow far worse if Mueller's report is damning in terms of Trump's team and their dealings with Russia during the 2016 campaign.
And no one around him is willing to tell the truth. Which could set Trump up for a major shock in a few months' time.