No sooner had prosecutors in the Southern District of New York filed sentencing recommendations against Michael Cohen than were members of the media calling on Democratic lawmakers to impeach President Trump.
The filings charge that President Trump directed Cohen to make hush payments to Stormy Daniels in a bid to buy her silence about an affair. Many in the media are contending that this would amount to Trump orchestrating a violation of campaign finance laws, and that, as a consequence, he can and should be impeached.
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, Eddie Glaude Jr., and Ali Velshi have all suggested Trump should be impeached. On CNN, Carl Bernstein and Watergate attorney John Dean also called for Trump’s impeachment. The Boston Herald’s Kimberly Atkins is calling for impeachment, too.
On MSNBC, host Lawrence O’Donnell said flat out that Trump “must be impeached.”
“Will Donald Trump be the only president in history accused by federal prosecutors of committing federal crimes who does not then face impeachment for those crimes?” O’Donnell asked. “Congress moved to impeach Richard Nixon when the special prosecutor described his crimes. The House of Representatives moved to impeach and did in fact impeach Bill Clinton when the special prosecutors showed that he committed perjury in that civil case involving Paula Jones.”
The host then added: “And so if history means anything in the Trump era, if precedent means anything in the Trump era, Donald Trump will be, must be impeached because of the crimes prosecutors say he committed in the Michael Cohen case.”
Later, O’Donnell invited on the Democratic congressman from Tennessee, Rep. Steven Cohen, to nudge toward filing impeachment charges, saying that failure to do so would mean Trump is the first president “accused of federal crimes” who does not face impeachment.
O’DONNELL: “Let me ask you this. What does it take to get an impeachment hearing against this president? He’s accused of federal crimes by federal prosecutors in new York City. That makes him one of three presidents in history. Are the Democrats prepared to allow this to be the only president in history who gets accused of federal crimes like this who then does not face an impeachment hearing in the house of representatives?”
COHEN: “I don’t think that will happen. I think it’s going to have to be speaker Pelosi and chairman Nadler to be the leaders. Nothing gets scheduled in Judiciary Committee without chairman Nadler, the chairman making it on the agenda. And he would not do that without consultation with the speaker and I’m sure the majority leader and Mr. Cliber as well.”
On CNN, Erin Burnett invited on former Richard Nixon attorney John Dean — who pleaded guilty to a felony for his role in the Watergate coverup — to discuss the latest from the Mueller probe. Dean said the House has “little choice” but to impeach Trump.
Cohen “implicated Trump directly, the payments were made for his benefit,” Dean said Friday night. “I don’t know that this will forever disappear into some dark hole of un-prosecutable presidents. I think it will resurface in the Congress. I think what this totality of today’s filings show that the House is going to have little choice the way this is going other than to start impeachment proceedings.”
MSNBC’s Velshi likewise urged a Democratic congressman — Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) — to impeach Trump.
Velshi said the filing described “the harm done to democracy” of Cohen’s behavior and “that Congress has specifically worked to protect Americans from rich people buying the silence of other people in the influence of an election.” He then asked, suggestively, “Are you in a position to consider discussing impeachment in Congress?”
Rep. Castro said that yes, he is open to pursuing impeachment charges.
“Nobody runs for the House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate because they want to go impeach a president, and I think that people are sobered by that thought,” Castro said. “That is the most serious thing that you could undertake in American democracy … but when the evidence becomes so clear that you very likely have a criminal sitting in the Oval Office, what have to” consider impeachment.
On Sunday, the impeachment calls continued. MSNBC’s Eddie Glaude Jr. said the congressional “machinery needs to start” on impeachment.
“You have four fronts,” for impeachment charges, Glaude Jr. said. “You have conspiracy. You have obstruction. You have campaign finance. And you have emoluments. And we’re beginning to see that it’s not just the shoe that’s going to drop, it’s going to be an anvil.”
He warned that “democracy is at stake” if Democrats stop short of impeaching Trump.
“If the Democrats do not pursue this vigorously, they will be, in some ways, held accountable for abdicating their responsibility,” Glaude Jr. said. “It seems to me that, part of what — and this goes to — I understand the politics. It goes to the moral question, the ethical question. Democracy’s at stake. And it seems to me, if Democrats don’t take their responsibility seriously, they will be held responsible for what’s happened.”
On CNN, The Washington Post’s Carl Bernstein said that what’s already known about Trump is impeachable.
“It certainly looks like they are the kind of offenses that would call for impeachment hearings into the conduct of the president of the United States,” Bernstein told Reliable Sources host, Brian Stelter.
On Meet the Press Sunday, The Boston Herald’s Kimberly Atkins, who is also an MSNBC contributor, said that even though the Senate will likely exonerate Trump in an impeachment trial, the House of Representatives still has a “duty” to bring impeachment charges.
“We’re hearing a lot about, ‘Well, there’s no way that he’s going to be convicted in the Senate. So why try?,’” she said. “That’s like saying, ‘Oh, we live in a district where people aren’t really upset about these certain crimes. We’re not going to charge somebody who committed this crime, because he’s probably not going to be convicted.’ No, you charge the crime. You let the process go through. So if House members find impeachable offenses, it is not just the right thing to do, it’s their duty to do, to bring that and let the Senate vote as the Senate votes.”