Jennifer Rubin: 'Impeachment now looking nailed on as time runs out for president'
If one believes that clear and convincing evidence of impeachable acts and additional reminders of President Donald Trump's grotesque corruption are required to propel impeachment forward, then this week may be a significant turning point in the impeachment story.
We saw the confluence of three events.
First, 'The Washington Post' reports: "At a combative session in the White House briefing room, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged that the Trump administration held up US military aid to Ukraine in part because of the president's request for that country to investigate a Democratic National Committee server."
Mulvaney tried to gaslight the American people by saying: "We do that all the time with foreign policy."
What amounted to a full-blown confession of impeachable conduct followed: "Did [Trump] also mention to me, in the past, the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question about that. But that's it. And that's why we held up the money... The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. And that is absolutely appropriate."
Every member of the US House and Senate knows that this is not done all the time, and that a quid pro quo to further a president's political interests is verboten. Trump and his cronies are making it increasingly difficult for Republicans to find a reason not to vote for impeachment and removal.
Compulsive confessions are a major stumbling block to retaining the loyalty of congressional Republicans.
Second, as if one confession were not enough, the ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, reportedly told the House impeachment panel that President Trump outsourced the job of handling US policy on Ukraine to Trump's personal attorney Rudolph W Giuliani, a decision that made Sondland uncomfortable but one he still carried out.
He further claimed at the time to have been in the dark about Giuliani's role in scrounging for dirt on former vice-president Joe Biden, a questionable defence, given Giuliani's many public statements boasting this was precisely what he was doing.
The evidence of a quid pro quo is piling up, giving Republicans one more reason to jump ship on Trump.
Finally, in an unprecedented display of chutzpah, Trump announced next year's Group of Seven summit would be held at his Doral golf resort near Miami, one of the clearest instances yet of self-enrichment and unconstitutional receipt of emoluments.
The emoluments controversy had receded in light of the Ukraine scandal, but such a blatant example of Trump's willingness to smash government and reap personal financial benefits weighs heavily in favour of removing him. We'd better get him out of there before he makes off with any more loot.
The urgency of his removal is intensified when he displays an ever-increasing appetite for unethical, unconstitutional and illegal conduct, about which his aides tell us to "get over it".
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff seemed to recognise the gravity of Mulvaney's confession.
"Mr Mulvaney's acknowledgment means that things have gone from very, very bad to much, much worse," he said.
A stream of witnesses continue to testify in the impeachment inquiry, increasing the volume of evidence of what is already an air-tight case.
At some point House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will need to decide there is enough evidence to convince most persuadable voters of goodwill that Trump's presence in the Oval Office is a danger to the republic.
Frankly, that might be any day now.
© Washington Post