The recent indictments and guilty-plea stemming from Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election set off a flurry of reactions across the political sphere. Some are arguing that these actions have nothing to do with the question of Russian collusion while others are arguing that impeachment is now but a stone’s throw away.
Shockingly (read: Not-at-all-suprisingly), neither position is firmly established in reality. While the administration is correct in asserting that the activities under the indictment transpired before the Trump campaign took off, it is entirely misleading to say that the man entering the guilty plea, George Papadopoulos, was merely an unknown, low-level volunteer. FBI documentation illustrates that his attempts to coordinate with Russia was acknowledged and encouraged by unnamed campaign officials. While the President may not have heard of him, he was certainly not a “nobody.”
It’s a mistake to say that nothing significant happened. But it’s also a mistake to think that this path necessarily leads to the top, to the President and his current advisers. Even if it did, it’s yet another mistake to think that the terminus is impeachment.
Nothing currently implicates President Trump in any legal wrongdoing; we can only wait for the investigation to take its course to be sure, though. But even allowing that it eventually turns up something that directly incriminates the President, impeachment is not a guaranteed outcome. People often forget that impeachment is a political process instead a legal one. House Republicans would have to help constitute the simple majority needed to charge and Senate Republicans would have to help constitute the 2/3rds majority needed to convict. And these representatives would have to justify their decision to a base that appears unshakably (and at times zealously) in the President’s corner. It is a risky prospect that, barring something indisputable and indefensible, most would probably avoid.
Senator John McCain recently likened the investigation to a centipede saying “I think there’s a lot of shoes to drop.” I, and people much more knowledgeable on the topic, agree with him. However, it would be a mistake to extend this logic and believe that one of those shoes will inevitably drop on President Trump.