Dan has a whole bunch of sensible questions that reporters should be asking members of Congress from both parties about what they believe constitutes an impeachable offense. I agree they should be asking them.
So rather than asking Republican members of Congress about impeaching Trump, we should be getting them to say what they themselves consider impeachable offenses – arguably locking them in, when and if Mueller can prove they were committed.
These are straightforward yes-or-no questions:
- If a president is found to have solicited or knowingly accepted help from a foreign government to influence an American election, isn’t that an impeachable offense?
- If a president fires a special prosecutor investigating him, isn’t that an impeachable offense?
- If a president directly orders the Justice Department to prosecute his political rivals, isn’t that an impeachable offense?
- If a president pardons himself, isn’t that an impeachable offense?1
- If a president promises pardons to potential witnesses against him, isn’t that an impeachable offense?
And, bonus essay question:
- What level of presidential lying to you consider an impeachable offense?
But I think I know what most of the answers will be: “I don’t want to get into hypothetical questions.”
Even so, reporters should be asking them. Maybe the follow-up should be: “Wait, you mean you think there’s actually a sufficient probability of this that you consider the question hypothetical?”
Bonus xkcd on hypotheticals:
- Note by MF: For the record, I think there are two good arguments that if a President pardons himself the pardon is invalid. First there is the idea that ‘no man should be the judge in his own cause.’ Second there’s the idea that a pardon is a thing one person confers on another, so a self-pardon just is incoherent. [↩]