Small cracks are starting to appear in what until now has been a fortified wall of GOP support for President Donald Trump on the impeachment question.
The first prominent Republican to break through that wall and call for Trump’s impeachment was House Freedom Caucus co-founder Rep. Justin Amash, who last weekend said in a series of tweets that Trump had “engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.”
Amash’s defiance in the eyes of the pro-Trump GOP brought him a new primary challenger, the severance of his financial backing, a rabid Trump tweet (of course), and a weak counterargument by Sen. Mitt Romney, of all people.
This week, however, another high-profile Republican—former Missouri Rep. Tom Coleman—spoke out about Trump’s alleged crimes, calling for both the president and Vice President Mike Pence to be impeached.
Coleman, who served in Congress for nearly two decades before becoming a lobbyist and university professor, published a scathing Op-Ed on Thursday in The Kansas City Star that called Trump’s presidency “illegitimate,” based on findings by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that the Trump campaign had urged a foreign adversary to defraud U.S. voters.
Because Trump’s presidency is illegitimate, a Pence presidency would be, too, should Trump be ousted, Coleman argued.
If this process leads to impeaching Trump in the House of Representatives and also results in convicting him in the Senate, his illegitimacy would survive through Vice President Mike Pence’s succession to the presidency. Because the misdeeds were conducted to assure the entire Trump-Pence ticket was elected, both former candidates — Pence as well as Trump — have been disgraced and discredited. To hand the presidency to an illegitimate vice president would be to approve and reward the wrongdoing while the lingering stench of corruption would trail any Pence administration, guaranteeing an untenable presidency. If Trump is impeached, then Pence should not be allowed to become president. The vice president should resign or be impeached as well if for no other reason that he has been the chief enabler for this illegitimate president.
As it currently stands, the Republican-controlled Senate would not vote to convict Trump should the House decide to impeach. But Coleman thinks that shouldn’t stop the Democratic-controlled House from initiating the proceedings.
To date, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has adamantly rejected calls from within her own party to impeach Trump. This is despite the fact that Pelosi believes Trump orchestrated a cover-up and that his actions “are villainous to the Constitution of the United States.”
Pelosi believes impeachment would embolden Trump and rally his base heading into the 2020 elections.
In response to that argument, Coleman said: “What if House Democrats decide not to embark on impeachment? If that were the case, I believe the public would conclude Democrats are no better than the Republicans who have enabled Trump for the past two years, putting party above country.”
That’s a pretty solid point. And it’s coming from a Republican.
Coleman also believes that the failure to impeach Trump would guarantee him a second term as president.
“There is a trove of evidence in the Mueller report indicating Trump has committed multiple impeachable offenses, including abuse of power and lying to the American public. Both were part of the articles of impeachment brought against President Richard Nixon,” Coleman wrote in the Op-Ed. “This process would allow a full public review of wrongdoing, while providing Americans an opportunity to obtain a better understanding of the consequences to our national security and the lingering threat to our democracy.”
Coleman, who served in Congress from 1976 to 1993, also appeared on CNN to push for impeachment, the first former GOP lawmaker to do so.
“I’m doing this for three people for sure: my three granddaughters. Because they have a right to live in a country that’s free, in a democracy,” Coleman said. “This president is dismantling our democracy every day, brick by brick.”