“It’s a dirty, filthy, disgusting word, and it has nothing to do with me,” President Trump declared, speaking to reporters Thursday on the White House lawn. The word that was causing the commander in chief to foam at the mouth was impeachment, and with all due respect, sir—we believe it has plenty to do with you.
On Wednesday at 11 in the morning, Robert Mueller, whose voice had not been heard publicly in the more than two years since his investigation began, emerged to speak about the Russia probe. In an extraordinary nine minutes, he once again reiterated what was laid bare in his report, stating plainly, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” Despite his measured tone, the impact of his words cannot be overstated. He explained that it was against Department of Justice policy to indict a sitting president, and he went on to say that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” which sounded to many like a clear challenge to Congress to begin an investigation with an eye toward that dirty disgusting word.
On Thursday, Attorney General William Barr, the guy who issued the deeply misleading summary of Mueller’s report before anyone got a chance to read it, told CBS: “The opinion says you cannot indict a president while he’s in office, but [Mueller] could’ve reached a decision as to whether it was criminal activity. But he had his reasons for not doing it, which he explained, and I'm not going to, you know, argue about those reasons.” The excruciating double-talk continued, with Barr admitting that when the report didn’t determine whether Trump had committed obstruction of justice, “the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, and I felt it was necessary for us, as the heads of the department, to reach that decision.”
As of this writing more than 50 members of the House, all Democrats save for one Republican, have reached a decision to call for impeachment hearings to begin. The reluctance of more Democrats to join this list is arguably pure political calculation—would acting to impeach Trump just make him want to play the victim all the more? Does he secretly want to be impeached? But there is also another line of reasoning that argues that screwing up some gumption and acting to impeach is, in fact, the only way Trump can be defeated in 2020. And then there is this: At some point, years from now, when members of Congress are asked about what they did in 2019, will they find themselves—like those who voted for the Iraq War and those who did not stand up to McCarthy’s red-baiting in the 1950s—on the wrong side of history?
In other news, in a display of hypocrisy stunning even for this odious administration, on Tuesday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that if a Supreme Court vacancy occurs during the lead up to next year’s presidential election, he would work to confirm a Trump nominee. Hey, Mitch—aren’t you the fellow who blocked Obama’s nominee back in 2016, arguing vociferously that you just couldn’t, shouldn’t, mustn’t fill a seat so close to an election?
On Thursday, Trump surprised everyone, even his closest aides, with a new plan to levy tariffs on Mexican goods, ostensibly to punish that country for allowing migrants to arrive in record numbers at the southern border. On Friday the Justice Department defied a court order to make public transcripts of recorded conversations between Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador to the United States, and the DOJ also refused to release unredacted portions of the Mueller report related to Flynn, which the judge had ordered.
Lastly, earlier this week during a state visit to Japan, the president took Kim Jong Un’s side against Joe Biden. When the North Korean dictator disparaged the former vice president, Trump said, “Well, Kim Jong Un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low IQ individual. He probably is, based on his record. I think I agree with him on that.”
But Trump has yet to chime in on another piece of news from North Korea: that it has executed its special envoy to the United States on spying charges, part of a reported purge of the country’s top nuclear negotiators. According to the New York Times, “Kim Hyok-chol, the envoy, was executed by firing squad in March at the Mirim airfield in a suburb of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s largest daily, reported on Friday, citing an anonymous source. Mr. Kim faced the charge that he was ‘won over by the American imperialists to betray the supreme leader,’ the newspaper said.”
Originally Appeared on Vogue