After almost two years of investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his report. The report concludes that Russia attacked the United States using cyber intrusion, misinformation on social media and other active measures to interfere with the 2016 election by undermining Hillary Clinton and supporting Donald Trump.
While Trump and his campaign staff were not indicted for criminal conspiracy, this report clearly identifies multiple contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians that amounts to collusion, if not criminal conspiracy, despite Trump’s incessant claims otherwise. Further, it documents 10 possible instances of obstruction of justice for which the president could have been criminally indicted except for a Nixon-era Department of Justice memo prohibiting it.
This memo is not a law and is not even a regulation but simply a legal opinion by some lawyer in the Nixon Justice Department; nevertheless, Mueller chose to be constrained by the rule. So now it is up to Congress, specifically the House of Representatives, to decide whether to proceed with an impeachment probe, the constitutional remedy for a president who has failed to live up to his oath of office and to faithfully execute the law.
Such probe should not only include the issues raised in Mueller’s report but also violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause and other abuses of power. How they proceed is not just about Trump but about our constitutional democracy and the behavior of future presidents. It is about upholding the rule of law.
Unless there are consequences for current abuses of power and lawless behavior, then this will be the new standard of allowable behavior. The framers of our Constitution would have found such behavior abhorrent and intended that the House begin an impeachment proceeding regardless of the ultimate verdict in the Senate.
For the last two years, many have been asking, when will any Republican stand up for the Constitution and condemn the president for his outrageous behavior? Now we must ask the same question of the Democrats. All of them, Democrats and Republicans, have sworn to uphold the Constitution and protect it against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
Robert Mueller, a combat-wounded Marine veteran, former FBI director and experienced prosecutor, did his job. Now will anyone in Congress have the courage to do their job, or will they default to what is politically expedient?