Former FBI Director James Comey gave testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday that was so devastating, even Fox News had to acknowledge it. More than that, though, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace went so far as to call Comey's account of the Oval Office meeting with Trump “very strong evidence,” an indication of legal, not just political, jeopardy. Trump, it would appear, is in deeper shit than the Ty-D-Bol Man in a Coachella Port-o-Potty.
If there is a measure of comfort for Trumpies to take, it is that some leaders of the Democratic opposition still have not seen enough. I understand the urge not to constantly scream “IMPEACH!” like a 'roided up Tea Partier, but they also need not be going around saying things like Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) did Thursday night.
In an interview with Chris Hayes, Murphy said that the case against Trump for obstruction of justice is “clear-cut,” yet he doesn't think that's enough to impeach:
HAYES: You think, from what you see today, that there's enough on the table that has been entered into evidence, as it were, to make a plausible case for obstruction, which you would consider a high crime or misdemeanor, is my sense.
MURPHY: So my instinct today is that there have to be two pieces to get to a question of high crimes and misdemeanors. One, this question of obstruction of justice. But I think we have to have a better understanding of the truth that the president was trying to hide. What was he trying to obstruct the FBI from getting to? Now, I think we've got lots of pieces of that.
MURPHY: But I do think we have to let the Mueller investigation move a little bit further to understand the second piece of this. But the obstruction case seems to be as clear-cut as you can imagine, given Comey's testimony today.
Now, I love the Democrats, but the expression is, “When they go low, we go high,” not “When they go low, we go weak.” It is possible to show the requisite political restraint without saying something as stupid as “Obstruction of justice is not enough to impeach on its own.”
You can explain that while this clear-cut obstruction should be impeachable, there are political or legal processes that have to take place first, or to Murphy's point, that discovery of an underlying crime would make a better case for impeachment. But to say that the commission of a federal felony is not enough to impeach is ludicrous.
It also betrays a misunderstanding of what obstruction is, a point that Democrats also seemed to miss during Comey's hearing. In his testimony, Coney asserted that Trump's “directive” to lay off of Flynn was, in his opinion, related only to Flynn's own legal jeopardy for lying to the FBI. No one saw fit to ask Comey if Flynn's status as a potential witness in the broader Russia investigation made this a de facto obstruction of that investigation.
Of course, it does, and with Flynn shopping for an immunity deal, no Democrat thought to ask Comey if a potential FBI witness could be swayed by a billionaire with the power to pardon him. Trump's Oval Office pussy-grab was merely an opening bid; he can still obstruct this investigation further.
Fortunately, Trump is about as clumsy at covering up as an ED-209 in a negligee, so there is every chance that the underlying offenses will come to light as well. But it's extremely stupid to raise the bar for impeachment, particularly when it now sits at lying about a blowie in a deposition.
There is political wisdom in staying out of the way when your opponent is destroying himself, but Democrats need to swing the pendulum just a little bit in the direction of folks like Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Maxine Waters (D-CA), who are keeping the impeachment horizon right where it belongs.