Unfolding events have increased talk of impeachment of President Donald Trump by Democrats and Republicans alike.
Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, on Feb. 13 after it was revealed that Flynn misled the public and top White House officials about about his communications with a Russian ambassador regarding sanctions.
On May 9, Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, who was leading a criminal investigation into whether Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
On May 16, a memo surfaced which revealed that Trump tried to pressure Comey to stop investigating Flynn. “I hope you can let this go,” wrote Trump to Comey in the memo.
On may 17, in response to the controversy over the sudden firing of Comey, and over the contents of the memo, the Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III, a former FBI director, as special counsel to oversee the investigation into possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.
After that, even Republicans began to talk of impeachment. Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan said if the reports about Trump’s pressure on Comey are true, it would merit impeachment, reports The Hill.
In an interview with CNN, Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida cited the impeachment of former Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton as precedents for impeaching Trump. “Obstruction of justice in the case of Nixon, in the case of Clinton in the late 90s, has been considered an impeachable offense,” Curbelo said.
If Trump were to be impeached or resign, Vice President Mike Pence would assume the presidency. However, recent revelations which suggest Pence knew about the activities of Flynn could possibly lead to Pence’s impeachment, as well, according to The Inquistr.
It was reported on May 17 that weeks before Trump’s inauguration, Flynn told Trump’s transition team, which was led by Pence, that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign, The New York Times reports. And according to The Inquistr, Pence had received a personal letter stating the same on Nov. 18, 2016, from Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who is also part of the House Government Oversight Committee.
However, some leading Democrats have argued against rushing into impeachment proceedings against Trump, let alone Pence.
“No one ought to, in my view, rush to embrace the most extraordinary remedy that involves the removal of the president from office,” said Democratic Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, reports The Times.
Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont concurred: “What needs to happen is that we have got to go forward with an absolutely bipartisan investigation. The public must understand this is not a Democratic issue.”