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TRUMPDATE: How close are we really to the impeachment of President Trump?Your guide to understanding the Special Counsel, the Comey Memo, and impeachment.
May 17, 2017

Well friends, things have heated up considerably since our last Trumpdate. Back then, we were simply talking about a world in which Donald Trump had fired former FBI Director James Comey for the stated reason that Comey was too mean to Hillary during the election (note: nobody believed that) and the much more probable reason that Trump didn’t like Comey’s FBI investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia (note: everyone believed that, but didn’t have the outright proof).

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A WEEK MAKES!

Today we stand before you washed anew in a flood of crazy-pants developments coming out of the White House and D.C., suggesting that impeachment proceedings might be in our near future. This time is certifiably historic. So let's do a quick recap of what's going on.

TRUMP ASKED COMEY TO END RUSSIA INVESTIGATION, ACCORDING TO COMEY'S FBI MEMO

OK, so this is wild. Allegedly, our President asked the then-Director of the FBI to squash the investigation into Trump's former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn's ties to Russia. ("I hope you can let this go," Trump allegedly said. This is the same as Trump saying, essentially, "Stop investigating me, bro.") If true, this is the President interfering with Department Of Justice proceedings and tantamount to obstruction of justice, which is in itself an impeachable offense. Trump disputes the claim, except there is a smoking gun: Comey drafted a memo and submitted it to the FBI after his one-on-one meeting with the President, which detailed these "unusual" statements by the President. Because FBI memos are generally viewed as strong evidence in judicial proceedings, and because Comey enjoys a reputation for truthfulness, and because of the contemporaneous nature of Comey's memo and the meeting, this is decidedly Not Good News For Trump. The memo itself has not been reviewed by authorities, but both Democrats and Republicans are moving for an investigation into Trump's firing Comey, including a subpoena by Republican House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz for the FBI to hand over all documents related to Comey's firing by May 24th. We'll know more on this front, and whether Republicans will join the Democrats' call for impeachment soon thereafter. In the meantime...

SPECIAL COUNSEL MUELLER TO TAKE OVER RUSSA INVESTIGATION

That's right, more decidedly Not Good News For Trump: Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who enjoys a sterling reputation for persistent and unbiased action, has been appointed Special Counsel for the Russia investigation. He will take over the FBI's investigation, with all agents reporting to him. Now, Democrats are celebrating this and it certainly ups the pressure on an already frenetic White House, but it is also worth noting that Mueller will not enjoy full autonomy, nor full freedom from political pressure: the Special Counsel is under the oversight of the Deputy Attorney General who is under the oversight of...THE PRESIDENT. But still, Mueller will have great operational latitude, and the ability to request additional resources if necessary. (Supposedly, Comey asking the Senate for more resources for his Russia investigation was the final straw in Trump deciding to fire him.)

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO IMPEACH A PRESIDENT?

Well, it's not an easy thing, that's for sure. First of all, it requires "high crimes and misdemeanors," per Article II, Section IV of the Constitution. Obstruction of Justice could qualify, but it gets technical. As for the actual mechanism for impeachment: Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution says that the House of Representatives shall "have the sole Power of Impeachment." Once "impeached," the President then will be tried in the Senate. Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution gives "sole power" to try an impeached President to the Senate, and requires two-thirds of those present to convict. (That means 67 Senators, by the way. THAT'S A LOT OF SENATORS TO AGREE ON ANYTHING, EVER.) Since Republicans control both houses of Congress, this hypothetical impeachment would take over 20 Republican Representatives to break ranks, and 19 Republicans Senators to do the same. It's a high bar, it takes a long time, and it's very complicated. But still...

IMPEACHMENT CALLS ARE IN THE AIR, AND ON THE FLOOR OF CONGRESS

Congressman Al Green logged his place in history as being the first to say the words in Congress today. We'll leave you with this.

Congressman Al Green's Floor Speech on the Impeachment of President Trump
Rep. Al Green
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