Dreams of impeachment may be the glue that holds many Americans' sanity together these days, but we're a long way from the dream becoming a reality. Former FBI director James Comey's Senate testimony garnered 20 million viewers, but it didn't provide much hope for Trump's removal. As Charles Blow writes in his Monday column, "There was no knockout blow. It wasn’t the penultimate moment that guaranteed impeachment, but rather just another moment in what will likely be a plodding inquiry."
"There is so much emotional investment in Trump’s removal," he observes, "that I fear it blinds people to the fact that it is a long shot and, in any case, a long way off."
It gets worse. Citing the Times' Adam Liptak's analysis of special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s investigation, Blow writes, “Would the Constitution allow Mr. Mueller to indict Mr. Trump if he finds evidence of criminal conduct? The prevailing view among most legal experts is no. They say the president is immune from prosecution so long as he is in office.”
Presidents have only been impeached by the House of Representatives twice (Bill Clinton and Andrew Jackson). Both times, the Senate declined to convict. Nixon resigned before articles of impeachment were drawn up.
None of those three situations involved Paul Ryan, whose lukewarm defense of Trump's actions was that the president is "new to this." Even Susan Collins, a supposed moderate Republican, "engaged in the outlandish speculation that Comey had set the precedent for one-on-one meetings with Trump when he pulled Trump aside to discuss the salacious 'pee-tape' dossier."
Salacious reports help a little, but the investigations will continue to be slow and likely free of smoking guns. The resistance, Blow reminds us, will require patience, even if "American expectations are tuned to a Netflix sensibility in which we want to binge a complete season in a single sitting. A proper investigation will not indulge our impatience."
Instead of praying for said smoking gun, we have to engage on a civic level, working to elect Democrats in 2018, particularly in the House (the Senate is not impossible, but a considerably longer shot, he cautions).
Blow ends on a hopeful but cautious note: "This is a long game and will not come to an abrupt conclusion. Perseverance must be the precept; lifelong commitment must be the motto."
Read the entire column at the New York Times.