Should President Donald Trump be impeached?
It's a question that in many ways seems academic, at least right now. With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, it is exceptionally unlikely that the president will face legal consequences for his alleged crimes until 2019 at the earliest. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't have a conversation about what he has done, however.
After noting that some of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton specifically listed examples of how those presidents had allegedly "prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice," Leonhardt argued that "given last week’s news — that Trump has already tried to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump campaign — it’s time to put together the same sort of list for Trump."
What did Leonhardt include?
1. During a dinner at the White House on Jan. 27, 2017, Trump asked for a pledge of “loyalty” from James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, who was overseeing the investigation of the Trump campaign.
2. On Feb. 14, Trump directed several other officials to leave the Oval Office so he could speak privately with Comey. He then told Comey to “let this go,” referring to the investigation of Michael Flynn, who had resigned the previous day as Trump’s national security adviser.
3. On March 22, Trump directed several other officials to leave a White House briefing so he could speak privately with Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director. Trump asked them to persuade Comey to back off investigating Flynn.
4. In March and April, Trump told Comey in phone calls that he wanted Comey to lift the ”cloud” of the investigation.
5. On May 9, Trump fired Comey as F.B.I. director. On May 10, Trump told Russian officials that the firing had “taken off” the “great pressure” of the Russia investigation. On May 11, he told NBC News that the firing was because of “this Russia thing.”
6. On May 17, shortly after hearing that the Justice Department had appointed Mueller to take over the Russia investigation, Trump berated Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. The appointment had caused the administration again to lose control over the investigation, and Trump accused Sessions of “disloyalty.”
7. In June, Trump explored several options to retake control. At one point, he ordered the firing of Mueller, before the White House counsel resisted.
8. On July 8, aboard Air Force One, Trump helped draft a false public statement for his son, Donald Trump Jr. The statement claimed that a 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was about adoption policy. Trump Jr. later acknowledged that the meeting was to discuss damaging information the Russian government had about Hillary Clinton.
9. On July 26, in a tweet, Trump called for the firing of Andrew McCabe, the F.B.I.’s deputy director, a potential corroborating witness for Comey’s conversations with Trump. The tweet was part of Trump’s efforts, discussed with White House aides, to discredit F.B.I. officials.
10. Throughout, Trump (and this quotation comes from the Nixon article of impeachment) “made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States.” Among other things, Trump repeatedly made untruthful statements about American intelligence agencies’ conclusions regarding Russia’s role in the 2016 election.
Leonhardt isn't the only notable name calling for Trump's impeachment.
"Trump should not be impeached because he's unconventional — because you don't like his style or because you disagree with his policies. I disagree with a lot of policies," Professor Allan Lichtman of American University told Salon in May. "Impeachment should only proceed when there is such a severe abuse of power by the president that it threatens the society itself."