A year ago I referred to Donald Trump’s cozy relationship with Russia and the possibility that he has been compromised by his financial and commercial ties to Moscow. As a matter of fact, at that time some well-informed people did call it treason. He’s acting like “a Russian mole,” wrote conservative columnist Max Boot. “America is under attack and its president absolutely refuses to defend it. Simply put, Trump is a traitor and may well be treasonous,” argued New York Times op-ed writer Charles M. Blow. The former CIA director, John Brennan, tweeted that “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous.” And John McLaughlin, former acting director of the CIA, called Trump an “agent of influence” for Russia in an interview with MSNBC.
But Trump survived these charges, and many others that, over the course of his campaign and presidency, many of us thought would prove his undoing: the Hollywood video on groping women, the racist comments on Mexican-Americans and Muslims, the payoffs to cover up affairs, the unwillingness to outright condemn neo-Nazis, the invitation to the Russians to get Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 emails, the mass incarcerations of migrants, the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, and the constant deference to Vladimir Putin and other authoritarian leaders. Still Trump stands, damaged but capable of inflicting great damage and even getting reelected.
But Trump is a man who never stops giving—giving, that is, evidence of treasonous and other impeachable behavior. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos last week, Trump added to the list with two spectacular comments. First, he said that of course he would accept damaging information on an election opponent from a foreign country. “I think I’d want to hear it,” said Trump; after all, he had gratefully accepted information from the Russians before and was “exonerated.” Second, Trump maintained that Article II of the Constitution, which describes the powers of the president, “allows me to do whatever I want.” If he had wanted to fire Robert Mueller, Trump said, “Article II would have allowed me to fire him.” Tsk, tsk, a few Republicans murmured—and that was that.
So American democracy has come down to this: We have a president who is convinced he can, with impunity, undermine other institutions of government, use powers the Constitution does not grant, engage in criminal acts and flagrant corruption that would put any ordinary person in jail, and assert the right to bypass the law in order to obtain information from a foreign power to promote his election. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, this man will not do to ensure his hold on power, including going to war.
An autocrat rules America, and the only responsible recourse of Congress is to impeach the autocrat. Donald Trump stands opposed to everything that is noble about America; he has betrayed the nation. He is in fact the principal threat to real national security, just as previous top officials in charge of national security have been telling us. Keep investigating him, of course; but start drawing up articles of impeachment now.