Donald Trump is almost certainly going to have to resign. His behavior in the Flynn-Comey affair is nothing short of obstruction of justice. Even Republicans who have defended his hijinks until now are beginning to understand the gravity of the President’s misbehavior.
We need to swallow hard and get this over with.
I knew long before the election that President Trump was going to be bombastic, crude, impulsive, and that he would play fast and loose with constitutional and political niceties. He flirted with an unapologetically extra-constitutional presidency, or at least Know Nothingism, openly declaring that he would profile Muslims, shake up long-established foreign policy norms and alliances, undo hard-fought environmental regulations, and undermine the credibility of some of our most important institutions, inlcuding the judiciary. He made all of that clear in his two-year campaign to become the Republican nominee and then President of the United States. Donald Trump won the 2016 election. Elections matter. He had a right to try to change America in the ways he outlined. Millions of Americans voted for him because he told them he would fix what was wrong with the United States.
But what none of us could really know was that he would permit his closest cronies to commit treason against the United States by egging on Russian interference in our national election. We could not know that he would divulge state secrets to the Russians, demand loyalty vows from key figures in his administration, or attempt to obstruct justice by first undermining the credibility of the FBI investigations, then trying to coerce FBI director James Comey, and–when that failed–firing Comey, the national officer investigating the crimes of Trump’s cronies, and perhaps his own.
We are edging towards an impeachment crisis. Whether we have the national will to see it through will be a test of our genuine patriotism and our love of the American constitution. It will also be a test of the Republican Party.
It seems to me that this can only end one way: sometime in then next year Donald Trump is going to leave the Presidency one way or the other. Mike Pence is going to be the next President of the United States. If you try to construct a scenario in which Mr. Trump survives this crisis, you will find it impossible to see a reasonably plausible path.
The only way Trump can survive is to go on national television, admit everything, apologize in plain and unmistakably sincere terms, throw himself on the mercy of the American people, ask for a final opportunity to redeem his presidency, and pray publicly for forgiveness. If he did this he would probably survive. The American people believe in second chances.
The likelihood of Mr. Trump facing his limitations in an unmistakable and humble way approaches zero. Hubris is his brand. He does not have the right stuff to confess to his inadequacies and his crimes.
Here’s why we need to get this over with sooner rather than later. While we spend months processing these increasingly damaging revelations, with Mr. Trump’s diehards blaming the Democrats, the Establishment, and the Media, our true enemies are plotting destruction to America and its vital interests. Their capacities for mayhem are equal to their appalling anti-American rhetoric. Remember the Condit-Levy madness of 2001? For months that summer the American people wallowed in sexual prurience after Chandra Levy was killed in the District of Columbia, and her boss Gary Condit denied, then admitted, he was having an affair with her at the time of her disappearance. Condit did not kill Ms. Levy. But his sexual predations distracted an entire nation at a critical moment in our history.
During those wild and crazy months former senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman were warning us that Al Qaeda was planning a major attack on the United States. They cried out plaintively using every tool in their possession. They were right about the threats. But the American people would not listen, because they were drunk with intrigue and innuendo, and they preferred to obsess over a tawdry DC sex scandal than attend to the urgent security crisis that was unfolding just on the other side of the National Enquirer. Think of the price we paid for our prurience.
We know that our Islamist enemies are now intending a major attack on the United States. Probably it will come in the form of a series of airline bombings, using laptop computers or other electronic devices that can be slipped through airport security inspections. National security officials have said recently that the current threat is the greatest since September 11, 2001.
Two things are critically important now. First, we need to get this political-constitutional farce over as soon as possible. Almost everyone now has a sense of how it is going to end, even many of the diehards. Second, when the real crisis comes–something catastrophic, perhaps on the scale of 9-11–we are going to need to have a President in place who can lead us through dark times to national survival and recovery. A stable President might even be able to prevent the attack.
I take no joy in the collapse of the Trump presidency. We are the most important nation on earth. The stakes could not be higher. We don’t have the luxury of a protracted national comedy of political ineptitude and malfeasance. Who wants to hear the last defenders defend the indefensible as things spiral into collapse? We need to attend to the urgent issues of our time: energy policy, health care, immigration, natural resource conservation, education, and above all national security. As in the summer of 2001, we have once again taken our eyes off of the ball. I am terrified by what is undoubtedly taking place behind the gaudy and sensational scenery as the fifth month of the Trump presidency begins.
Let’s just get it over with.