Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said that maybe there should be an "Impeachment Clock" that acts like the famous "Doomsday Clock." If there was, he added, President Donald Trump's firing of James Comey would have "moved us an hour closer to midnight." (Image: Common Dreams / CC BY 3.0)

Trump Impeachment Clock Ticks as Poll Shows Just 29% Approve of Comey Firing

Trump's firing of his FBI director last week has only increased concerns of his ability to govern

Jon Queally

With a new poll of U.S. voters on Sunday showing that less than one-third support his abrupt ouster of FBI Director James Comey last week, the talk of impeaching President Donald Trump and demands for a special prosecutor to investigate possible ties between his campaign and alleged Russian interference in last year's election have reached their highest levels to date.

The new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday shows that only 29% of all respondents approved of Comey's firing while over 50% percent of those who said they knew "a lot" about how those events unfolded said they disapprove of the president's behavior.

"Arguably he's already obstructed justice and already violated the emoluments clause. I'm not saying we should impeach him now, I'm calling for an impeachment investigation."
—History professor Allan Lichtman
With Comey's controversial dismissal coinciding with a new round of opinion polls that show Trump's approval ratings stuck at historically low levels, a survey from Quinnipiac last week showed that the top three words that popped into respondents' heads when asked to describe President Trump were: 'idiot'; 'incomepetent'; and 'liar'—in that order.

In the wake of Comey's firing and Trump's subsequent explanation last week, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said Trump's firing of Comey reminded him of the so-called "Doomsday Clock," a project run by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists which seeks to warn the world about the encroaching threat of nuclear and other forms of human annihilation. "Maybe we should start an impeachment [clock]," Pocan tweeted. "This moved us an hour closer to midnight."

In a widely-circulated op-ed written by Laurence Tribe on Saturday, the Harvard constitutional law professor explained why the prospect of impeachment proceedings should now be front and center. According to Tribe, though Trump's firing of Comey is itself troubling, the case against Trump goes well beyond that.

"Even without getting to the bottom of what Trump dismissed as 'this Russia thing,'" writes Tribe, "impeachable offenses could theoretically have been charged from the outset of this presidency. One important example is Trump’s brazen defiance of the foreign emoluments clause, which is designed to prevent foreign powers from pressuring U.S. officials to stray from undivided loyalty to the United States. Political reality made impeachment and removal on that and other grounds seem premature." But, he adds, "No longer. To wait for the results of the multiple investigations underway is to risk tying our nation’s fate to the whims of an authoritarian leader."

On Friday, Allan Lichtman, a professor of history at American University who correctly predicted Trump's presidential victory, similarly told Newsweek magazine that there is no longer reason to hold off talk of impeachment.

"[Trump] arguably could be impeached now," said Lichtman. "Arguably he's already obstructed justice and already violated the emoluments clause. I'm not saying we should impeach him now, I'm calling for an impeachment investigation."

But in addition, last week's dismissal of Comey, including the president's own version of events and how they conflicted with several versions put out by his senior communications staff and Vice President Mike Pence, add an entirely new level of potential misconduct that many argue constitute obstruction of justice.

"We see credible reporting that he may well be guilty of obstructing justice in the FBI investigation, first by demanding loyalty to him personally from the man investigating him," Lichtman said. "That's pretty blatant obstruction of justice. And then by firing director Comey and then in effect lying initially, or having his team lie in his direction, about the reasons for the firing."

"The question is no longer whether there are grounds to impeach Donald Trump. It is when enough Republicans will put their loyalty to America ahead of their loyalty to their party."
—Robert Reich
Writing on his own blog, University of Berkeley professor and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich said that is will now be up to Democrats in the House, and any Republicans possibly brave enough to join them, to initiate serious inquiries into whether or not the president should face impeachment proceedings. The key issues, argues Reich are these:

(1) The illegality of a President of the United States seeking to intimidate a potential witness in a congressional investigation.

(2) The illegality of a President potentially intimidating current FBI personnel who are investigating that president or his aides, by firing the former FBI head who was leading such an investigation and now threatening retaliation against him.

"These illegal acts cannot be ignored," argued Reich. "We are facing a constitutional crisis potentially larger and more significant than Richard Nixon's 'Watergate.' As long as Donald Trump remains president, our governing institutions are threatened."

In a separate post on Sunday, Reich added, "The question is no longer whether there are grounds to impeach Donald Trump. It is when enough Republicans will put their loyalty to America ahead of their loyalty to their party."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Fears of Escalation as Ukraine Answers Russian Missile Onslaught With Strike Deep Inside Invader's Territory

Ukrainian drones bombed two air bases more than 300 miles inside Russia, reportedly killing three soldiers, wounding four others, and damaging multiple warplanes.

Brett Wilkins ·

Patient Groups Push Congress to Combat Big Pharma Greed in Spending Bill

"As Congress works toward finalizing an end-of-year budget package, we urge the chambers to include bipartisan legislation to address abuse of the Food and Drug Administration's citizen petition process in order to reduce drug prices and save the government hundreds of millions of dollars."

Brett Wilkins ·

10,000+ Sign Open Letter Demanding Biden Order Paid Sick Leave for Railway Workers

"No one, especially in the world's richest nation, should have to choose between forgoing pay or working through severe illness and family emergencies," says The Lever's letter.

Jessica Corbett ·

Right-Wing SCOTUS Majority Signals Support for Anti-LGBTQ+ Reactionaries

"It does not bode well for the future of civil rights law that Gorsuch believes a state imposes 'reeducation training' on employers when it reminds them how to comply with nondiscrimination rules," said one court observer.

Julia Conley ·

Report Reveals Corporate Capture of Global Biodiversity Efforts Ahead of Summit

"Their 'solutions' are carefully crafted in order to not undermine their business models; ultimately they do nothing for the environment," said one Friends of the Earth campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo