As more and more information comes out about the current President and his administration’s ties to Russia, many people are becoming more anxious and wondering whether anything will happen. By anything is usually meant impeachment, but sometimes includes Congressional inquires and hearings. My personal belief is that, yes, at some point Congress will finally do something and act. At some point, they will hold hearings looking into 45*’s relationship with Russia, whether Gen. Flynn improperly spoke with intelligence agents in Russia, what the substance of those conversations were, whether he did lie to the FBI (which it appears he did), and also 45*’s own ties and relationship to Russia. Remember that he’s denied having anything to do with Russia, but does have business holdings there. It’s an open question whether he’s borrowed money from Russian sources (it appears he has). Also an open question is whether Russian intelligence agencies have information about 45* and, if so, what the substance of that information is.
I counsel patience in anticipating these hearings because history shows that investigations into presidential misconduct take a great deal of time. Andrew Johnson, the first President impeached, was impeached for removing Secretary of War Edward Stanton. That’s an oversimplification, but will suffice for my purposes here. He removed Stanton, who had essentially been granted life tenure by statute, in 1867. Congress had long sought reasons to impeach Johnson and that proved to be the one that stuck. The impeachment happened about a year later; it was not begun immediately after Stanton’s firing.
The next President who ran into serious problems that touched on the “high crimes and misdemeanors” requirement for impeachment was Richard Nixon. The break-in at the Watergate Hotel – a colossally stupid incident that was amazing for the gross incompetence of the people involved – happened in June 1972. Months of investigative reporting came out prior to Congressional hearings. After even more public investigations, this time at the hands of Congress and its special prosecutors and with the assistance of the judiciary, Nixon was forced to resign. He resigned in August, 1974.
Bill Clinton received oral sex in the Oval Office, lied about it, and was later impeached. Yes, because he lied about a blowjob, he was impeached. Regardless, we forget how long it took between the initial encounter between Monica Lewinsky and Clinton and the impeachment: the entire affair (no pun intended) ran between 1995 and 1998. I’m omitting the whole Whitewater investigation which preceded (and overlapped) the Lewinsky matter; that would add more time to my timeline. But, again, it was about three years from start to finish.
So I counsel patience if you hope for an investigation to happen and bear fruit. I suspect it will be quite a while before anything happens. The GOP has been longing to get rid of the New Deal (specifically Social Security) and Great Society (specifically Medicare and Medicaid) programs for literally generations. Add to that their obscene desire to demolish the Affordable Care Act, and they have little motivation to conduct investigations into possible espionage and treason at the highest governmental levels.
Once they dismantle all those social safety nets, they may – just may – act. At that point, 45* will have served his purpose: sweeping into office Republicans and distracting America from the demolition of the many programs mentioned above that people absolutely rely on. I anticipate that to take until roughly the 2018 election season. After the programs are gone – and make no mistake, they WILL be revoked – then the GOP will hold investigations.
The one fly in the ointment is Senator John McCain. He is the last stalwart, anti-Russian in Congress (Lindsey Graham blows hot and cold, more cold than hot). He has repeatedly stated his opposition to working closely with Russia and has called for investigations. He may also be somewhat motivated because the great warrior that is 45* has repeatedly called McCain’s military and legislative service, as well as his rationale for wanting investigations, into question. McCain may be the last hope for a relatively quick investigation beginning. ETA: If he does do this, it may well be the most important patriotic act he’s done for his country – and he has done many well documented patriotic acts in the past.
That said, I wouldn’t expect much even from a motivated McCain: he, too, opposes all the social programs. He is, after all, a Republican. So if we’re pinning our hopes on McCain coming to America’s rescue and saving us from what increasingly appears to be at the very least a man with questionable judgment related to Russia, we may have a very long wait.
So hold on tight, America. An investigation,and possibly impeachment, will happen. It just won’t happen for a while yet.