Last week, House Democrats concluded their first round of public impeachment inquiry hearings, and they’re fast approaching the next stage. This week, the House Judiciary Committee announced a hearing set for December 4 covering the legal basis for impeachment in the wake of President Donald Trump’s specific abuse of power, and now, in the meantime, an assistant prosecutor who worked on the Watergate scandal has spoken out via an opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune in which they declared that Trump’s behavior is “worse than Nixon,” who, of course, presided over a literal break-in targeting his opponents.
The former Watergate prosecutor — Jill Wine-Banks — was responding to a piece that the paper’s own editorial board had published recently suggesting that censure, not impeachment was the appropriate course of action in response to the president’s corruption.
The board had said that impeachment should be used “only in the gravest, most unusual circumstances,” and in her own piece, Wine-Banks insisted:
‘Using the office of president for personal benefit while harming the security of an ally fighting a shared hostile foreign power and our own national security at the same time seems the precise definition of the gravest circumstances. Add to this abuse of power, the stonewalling of this investigation, the Mueller investigation and all routing congressional oversight, and it is obvious that there can be no clearer case of facts to support Congress acting on its assigned role to impeach and remove a president who threatens our “security and integrity” and the very foundations of our democracy. President Trump’s actions are far worse than those of President Richard Nixon.’
As Wine-Banks notes, House Democrats who are pursuing impeachment are not responding to simply ordinary political circumstances, as Republicans have spun themselves up asserting for weeks on end at this point. Rather, they’re responding to Trump deciding to hold back military aid that had been meant for Ukraine to defend itself against Russia while he demanded that the country produce useful political dirt on the Bidens. Just recently, E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland told Congress that “everyone was in the loop” about that Ukraine quid pro quo scheme — and how much more straightforward than that can you get?
Trump, of course, has continually insisted that he’s done absolutely nothing wrong and that impeachment investigators are engaged in nothing but a witch hunt.
This week, he delivered a new defense of his behavior that ironically left him and Wine-Banks in agreement about an issue’s existence, although they’re on dramatically different sides. Although Trump claimed that he’s “fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President” to be free to act as he has, Wine-Banks noted that Trump and future presidents “will be emboldened to act as though they are above the law because he and they will be” if Congress doesn’t act. In short, the future is at stake.
Trump seems to understand the desperation of the situation. In a new interview with Bill O’Reilly, he suggested that he didn’t even know what his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was doing in having spent months engaged in the Trump team’s push for dirt. In reality, Trump is himself on record pushing for Ukraine to produce that dirt.