Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

It’s Exam Time: Impeachment is the Subject

I love being a professor.  I teach one class every fall and it is the highlight of my year.  I get 18 to 25 students who I can introduce to my passion for history, energize their critical thinking, stretch their minds and their imaginations, and hopefully inspire them to keep asking questions and looking to history for examples that are relevant to them—no matter what they do in the rest of their lives.

But occasionally, you get a student who just doesn’t want to do the work.  They don’t read, and they don’t study, but they show up in your office an hour before the final and begin asking you what they should know about the League of Nations or the causes of World War II for the exam.  I always try to be as helpful as I can be, within reason, but the truth is I’ve already told every student what they need to know about those things: it was in my lectures and in the readings I assigned.  The rest is up to them.

As I watched Robert Mueller testify to Congress, he struck me as the wise, old professor who won’t give you the answers on the exam, because he expects that you have done the reading.

Back in April, after we actually could read the Mueller report, these four things were clear:

  1. Russia attacked the U.S. political system in 2016.
  2. Trump’s team knew and hoped to benefit from it, coordinated messaging with what was coming out of Wikileaks, and told no one of their contacts with Russians.
  3. Obstruction of justice by a sitting president—of which there are multiple cases with substantial evidence documented in the report—has only a constitutional remedy while he is in office: impeachment.
  4. Barr’s four page summary letter of the Mueller report was a master-class in spin.

This—shocking criminality and betrayal of country for personal gain—is all in the Mueller report.  It is documented.  The evidence is substantial.  Listen to what the Republicans did in defending the president: they didn’t argue the facts of the case, they tried to impugn the honor, integrity, and professionalism of Robert Mueller—a Marine war hero who has dedicated his life to public service, and that of his team.

The fact that the public discussion of this isn’t one-sided is a testament to party discipline in the GOP and the effectiveness of the information machine run by the Trump camp.  In the aftermath of a day of damning testimony, Politico reported that the feeling in the White House was jubilant.  The President tweeted, “TRUTH IS A FORCE OF NATURE.”  Like Barr’s four page letter—this isn’t the truth, it’s narrative—and it is designed to politically insulate the president from being held to account for his misdeeds as a candidate and as the chief executive of the United States.

The truth of the matter is that the president was likely to claim complete exoneration for anything short of Mueller looking in the camera and saying, “impeach him.”  That is the nature of weaponized narrative, and the Trump White House wields that weapon with great discipline and sophistication.

The only option for those who believe in the rule of law and that even the President of the United States is not above the law, is to begin impeachment proceedings.  The evidence is stark.  It is overwhelming.  And it is Congress’ duty—as well as that of every citizen—to follow the evidence wherever it leads us.

Some commentators put their faith in Robert Mueller’s investigation.  But our founders created free institutions—and enshrined their power into our Constitution—because free institutions, and not individuals, are the best means to preserve our liberties and our constitutional system. 

It’s final exam time.  Robert Mueller wasn’t going to tell us any answers in that hearing beyond what he already said in his report.  It is time for Speaker Pelosi to show she’s done the homework; read the readings; and is ready for the test. It’s time to begin an impeachment investigation.

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