In October 2009, early in the Obama presidency, the right-wing publication WorldNetDaily published an article entitled, “Is it Time to Whisper the Word ‘Impeachment’?”
The article quotes President Gerald Ford from his Senate days saying that an impeachable offense was: “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” The article goes on to conclude:
“In other words, ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ does not refer to a criminal act. Our Founding Fathers fully intended to allow for the removal of the president for actions which include: gross incompetence, negligence and distasteful behavior.”
If indeed that were truly the standard for impeachment, then I would say that Trump is clearly on the path to impeachment, even though it might have to wait until the next Congress. But that is not the definition. As much as “gross incompetence, negligence and distasteful behavior” characterizes President Trump so far, we have yet to see a level of gross illegality that would literally force Congress to act. Some suggest that a Republican Congress would never impeach a Republican president, but one needs but look at the incredibly low approval ratings Congress has to see that they cannot afford to act in a partisan way when faced with a hypothetical smoking gun in the hands of Donald Trump amidst a pile of bodies in Central Park.
So it is not time to whisper the word “impeachment” – not until it is earned.