Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"The calls for answers have only become louder and the questions more urgent," said Public Citizen in a statement. (Photo: Getty)

As Comey Bolsters "Obstruction" Case, Prospects of Trump Impeachment Rise

"Impeachment takes time but we need to start the process now. It's time to call for impeachment hearings."

Jake Johnson

On the heels of fired FBI Director James Comey's "unprecedented" and "devastating" testimony on Thursday, in which he accused the White House of "lies" and said President Donald Trump exerted a "chilling effect" on the FBI's Russia probe, calls for impeachment proceedings to begin have reached a fever pitch.

Comey's testimony, declared Indivisible in a statement, "confirms that Donald Trump tried to obstruct justice. That is an impeachable offense. Impeachment takes time but we need to start the process now. It’s time to call for impeachment hearings."

"[The Comey testimony] confirms that Donald Trump tried to obstruct justice. That is an impeachable offense."
—Indivisible
MoveOn.org issued its own recommendation to the U.S. Congress, noting "it
is now clear that Trump's effort to use the powers of the presidency to interfere with an ongoing investigation of whether, how, and why a foreign power tried unlawfully to undermine our electoral process is exactly the kind of fundamental abuse of power that the founders believed is an impeachable offense—a 'High Crime or Misdemeanor’ under our Constitution.'"

On several occasions during Thursday's hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey himself addressed the question of whether Trump abused the power of his office by expressing his "hope" that the FBI would end its investigation into the conduct of retired general and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

"I don't think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct," he told Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). "I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning. But that's a conclusion I'm sure the special counsel will work toward, to try and understand what the intention was there and whether that's an offense."

While Comey expressed his belief that Trump's comments on the Flynn investigation—which were allegedly made during a one-on-one dinner conversation with the former FBI director—amounted to "a direction," Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) questioned whether expressing "hope" for an outcome amounts to obstruction.

But analysts quickly shot down Risch's argument, noting that the legal definition of obstruction of justice is not limited to an explicit order. As constitutional scholar at least two federal courts of appeals have found that 'I hope' statements, when spoken by a defendant with potential sway over the statement’s target, can constitute obstruction of justice."

Hermel concluded:

None of this is to suggest that indictment or impeachment is imminent. What this does suggest is that Comey's testimony—combined with Trump's reported request that Coats intervene in the Flynn investigation, Coats’s nondenial of that report, and the president’s subsequent firing of the FBI chief—makes the case that Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice quite a bit more plausible than it was when the week began.

"The key question," former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti concluded in an interview with CNN, "is whether the president acted with corrupt intent."

A growing number of Americans, according to recent opinion surveys, believe that he did. A Washington Post/ABC poll published prior to Comey's testimony found that 61 percent of the American public believes "Trump fired Comey to protect himself rather than for the good of the country."

All of this—the arguments of lawmakers, legal scholars, and former prosecutors in conjunction with Comey's account and surging public outrage—amounts, in the view of activists, to an overwhelming cumulative case in favor of initiating the impeachment process.

At the very least, argued Public Citizen in a statement released shortly following the Comey hearing, an independent commission should be established.

"The calls for answers have only become louder and the questions more urgent," the statement noted. "We must better understand the potential interference by Russia in the 2016 presidential race and what collusion may have occurred between members of the Trump campaign and foreign nations. We also need to understand how and if the president’s foreign entanglements and conflicts are jeopardizing our nation’s security...and if the firing of Comey should be considered obstruction of justice in a criminal or constitutional sense."


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

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Patient Group Targets Pair of Democrats for 'Selling Us Out to Drug Companies'

"It makes me so angry that members of Congress are choosing Big Pharma over patients. It's unforgivable."

Jake Johnson ·


Judge Blocks Biden From Continuing 'Inhumane' Trump Policy to Deport Families

"This is not the end of the battle against this practice," said one rights group, "but it is a major step to ensure that the U.S. welcomes these asylum-seeking families—as we should."

Jessica Corbett ·


400+ Economists Press Congress to Permanently Expand Child Tax Credit

Such an expansion would "dramatically reduce childhood poverty in the United States," they said.

Andrea Germanos ·


Biden Admin. Sued for Letting Big Oil Harass 'Imperiled' Polar Bears

"We're hopeful the court will overturn this dangerous rule that puts polar bears in the crosshairs."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Cruel and Callous': Biden Slammed for Resuming Deportations to Battered Haiti

"Hours after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, President Joe Biden released a statement saying that the United States was a 'friend' of Haiti. A 'friend' does not continuously inflict pain on another friend," said Guerline Jozef of the Haitian Bridge Alliance.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo