Saturday, November 18, 2017
Politics

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

RECOMMENDED READING


"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."

Comments
As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

WASHINGTON — "You can do anything," Donald Trump once boasted, speaking of groping and kissing unsuspecting women. Maybe he could, but not everyone can. The man who openly bragged about grabbing women’s private parts — but denied he really did so — w...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama’s Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women Friday to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans, and women...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken personally apologized to the woman who has accused him of forcibly kissing her and groping her during a 2006 USO tour, saying he remembers their encounter differently but is "ashamed that my actions ruined that ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

An 87-year-old widow from Melbourne, a mysterious direct mail company in tiny Buffalo, Wyo., and a tangled web of political committees all were linked to the onslaught of negative mailers that helped Lawrence McClure win the Republican primary in Pla...
Updated: 7 hours ago

10,000 more FBI records unsealed from JFK assassination files

DALLAS — Yet again, the National Archives released a trove of records from the Kennedy assassination files on a Friday afternoon, another strange stream of loose ends, dead ends and tangents with little apparent connection to the assassination of the...
Updated: 8 hours ago
William March: Why Jose Vazquez had to campaign from a prison cell

William March: Why Jose Vazquez had to campaign from a prison cell

Jose Vazquez, Democratic nominee in the Dec. 19 state House District 58 special election, doesn’t seem like a criminal. He’s 43, divorced with six children, and has worked as a security guard and in auto recycling. He was a high-level political field...
Published: 11/17/17
Selective outrage: Trump criticizes Franken, silent on Moore

Selective outrage: Trump criticizes Franken, silent on Moore

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is displaying selective outrage over allegations of sexual harassment against prominent men in politics, as his own tortured past lingers over his response. Trump moved quickly Thursday to condemn accusations again...
Published: 11/17/17
In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

UTICA, N.Y. — Pat Marino pulled into the shop on a cold, wet Thursday and stood close as a young mechanic with gelled-up hair and earrings lifted the truck and ducked underneath."You need a little bit more oil," the mechanic said."Five quarts wasn’t ...
Published: 11/17/17
Franken draws swift condemnation in Congress after woman claims he groped her

Franken draws swift condemnation in Congress after woman claims he groped her

WASHINGTON — Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., faced swift condemnation and bipartisan calls for an ethics investigation Thursday after he was accused of forcibly kissing and groping a broadcaster and model while traveling overseas in 2006.The allegations ag...
Published: 11/16/17
Alabama GOP stands by Roy Moore; Trump declines to urge him to quit Senate race

Alabama GOP stands by Roy Moore; Trump declines to urge him to quit Senate race

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Roy Moore won a reprieve in his struggle to survive as a U.S. Senate candidate Thursday when the Alabama Republican Party affirmed it would continue backing him despite allegations that he sexually assaulted teenagers."Judge Moore ...
Published: 11/16/17