EDITORIAL: Trump’s Russian treachery eclipses Mueller probe, warrants an impeachment trial now


EDITOR’S NOTE: The editorial has been updated to note President Donald Trump’s attempt to backtrack on his Helsinki comments.

President Donald Trump perfectly illustrated two things during his astonishing moment on the world stage Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

Foremost, Trump made clear he must be impeached to protect the nation against a leader either so corrupt or so imbecilic as to side with an adversary who has attacked us once and threatens to do it again.

And his stunning act of treachery will almost certainly make the midterm elections a referendum on his imminent impeachment. For a man who has drowned his presidency in an ocean of lies and malfeasance, being able to create a single event that eclipses all of his previous blunders is a feat unparalleled in modern political history.

The day after his Finnish Waterloo, Trump tried to backpedal on the disaster, making it even worse with his obvious and poorly thought out lies about having misspoke. With zero credibility, he only makes the case for impeachment more compelling.

Trump has moved beyond his marginally dangerous malfeasance and become an imminent threat to America and its allies.

Overwhelmed and fatigued by the sheer spectacle and weight of endless White House antics and diversions, the American public has looked away. The nation is distracted and waiting for the seemingly endless Mueller FBI investigation to reveal just how and how much Trump colluded with the Russians to undermine Hillary Clinton in 2016. The country is waiting to find out what ways Trump has since obstructed an FBI investigation into those two crimes.

No doubt most Americans figured the results of that investigation would somehow be Trump’s undoing, resulting in his resignation or impeachment.

We cannot wait for the investigation results, nor is it any longer the most dangerous and damning crime Trump has committed. Monday was an episode of unabashed treason.

Whether Trump is simply too dense to understand how he’s been played by a ruthless Russian dictator, or whether Trump is so mentally ill that he cannot control the impulse to hold back his insecurities about illegitimately holding the office of president, or whether Trump truly is so malevolent that he’s sold out his own country to the enemy for whatever lurid reason is unknown to the world, it no longer matters.

He must be removed from office to protect the integrity and security of the government and the nation.

Credible and trustworthy American intelligence and justice officials have presented solid, consistent and irrefutable evidence of the Russian government working to corrupt America’s election system for the sole purpose of elevating Trump into office in 2016.

And those same trusted officials say the Russians are working hard to strike at our election system again — now.

It’s not hard to believe that a Russian government that would invest what it did to throw the presidential election to Trump in 2016 would certainly work as hard or harder to ensure a Congress is not elected that could usurp their choice for U.S. president.

As of Monday, Russia has now neutered its fiercest obstacle to a growing list of global crimes — the United States. Before Trump’s horrific groveling Monday before one of the world’s most corrupt and ruthless dictators, America was the shining light. Trump has sullied the United States and put us on par with a regime that survives by propaganda, lies and corrupting the rule of law.

The planet has depended on America to hold Russia accountable for atrocities such as invading neighboring countries, shooting down civilian airliners, poisoning adversaries in foreign countries with banned nerve agents, propping up murderous despots, destroying political opponents and endlessly working to undermine democracies around the world like our own.

And as of today, America’s leader has gone beyond embracing this prolific adversary and has now deferred to it.

Americans must either believe the thousands of career defense and intelligence officials who have faithfully served this country for generations, as well as the vast majority of members of Congress from both parties, or they must believe a man who cannot stop lying and has shown allegiance only to himself.

That man, Donald Trump, cannot continue to be president.

Republicans must abandon their callow and cowardly sycophancy, their coy deference to Trump to accommodate short-term political gains. History is unequivocal in showing that there is never a net gain from such an odious scheme.

If this Congress is not willing to hold a fair and thorough impeachment trial, Americans must elect a Congress that will.