Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'I think we're in impeachment territory,' says David Gergen, former aide to Nixon and Clinton

"I think we're in impeachment territory."

Those were not the words of a left-wing political blogger with high hopes, nor a hyperactive Twitter maven spouting conspiracy theories. They came from David Gergen, the typically moderate, mild-mannered CNN analyst and former aide to four presidents, both Republican and Democrat.

Gergen appeared on CNN Tuesday night to discuss to discuss the controversies that have overwhelmed the Trump administration in the past week.

At the top of the list were reports that President Trump had asked former FBI Director James B. Comey to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser. The revelation has fueled claims that Trump might have obstructed justice, which in the past has been treated as an impeachable offense.

If true, it could mean devastating consequences for the president, said Gergen, who served under Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, both of whom faced the impeachment process.

"I was in the Nixon administration, as you know, and I thought after watching the Clinton impeachment I'd never see another one," Gergen told host Anderson Cooper. "But I think we're in impeachment territory now for the first time."

Cooper asked: "Really?"

"I think that obstruction of justice was the number one charge against Nixon that brought him down," Gergen responded. "Obstruction of justice was the number one charge against Bill Clinton, which led to his indictment in the House."

The New York Times first, then the Washington Post and other outlets have reported that Trump had asked Comey in a February meeting not to pursue the Flynn probe and pursue reporters in leak cases instead. Comey shared his notes from the conversation with aides, who in turn described the notes to reporters. Legal analysts told the Washington Post Tuesday that a criminal obstruction-of-justice case is possible but would likely require more evidence.

RELATED: Comey memo says Trump asked him to end Flynn investigation

The news came within a week of Trump's dismissal of Comey and a day after reports that Trump had shared classified information with Russian officials.

The White House denied the version of the conversation described by Comey's aides, telling The Post "the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end an investigation." Trump has separately defended his firing of Comey and his sharing of information with Russian officials.

On CNN, Gergen said that "from a lay point of view" it appeared Trump was trying to impede the FBI's investigation.

"He was using his power to do that, and when James Comey didn't go along with him, when he wasn't his boy, he fired him, which I think is also relevant to the question of what he was trying to do," Gergen said. "So from my point of view this is of enormous consequence for his presidency."

"I think if you look at the three bombshells we've had," Gergen added, "what we see is a presidency that's starting to come apart."

Gergen wasn't the only moderate voice to suggest Tuesday that a plausible case for Trump's removal was emerging.

Ross Douthat, a conservative columnist for the New York Times, wrote that while Trump may not be guilty of the "high crimes and misdemeanors" necessary for impeachment, he had shown himself incapable of governing the country. A more appropriate solution, Douthat argued, was to remove Trump under the 25th Amendment, which allows the president's cabinet to deem him "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office."

"It is not squishy New York Times conservatives who regard the president as a child, an intellectual void, a hopeless case, a threat to national security," Douthat wrote. "It is people who are self-selected loyalists, who supported him in the campaign, who daily go to work for him."

President Bill Clinton listens to David Gergen during a  Rose Garden news conference in 1993 where it was announced Gergen will become one of Clinton's new top advisers. [Associated Press]

President Bill Clinton listens to David Gergen during a Rose Garden news conference in 1993 where it was announced Gergen will become one of Clinton's new top advisers. [Associated Press]

'I think we're in impeachment territory,' says David Gergen, former aide to Nixon and Clinton 05/17/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 7:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.