Donald Trump
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

It is impossible to know what the framers of our constitution had in mind when they wrote the process for impeachment. But we have a historical record showing that the three times it has been used in the past, congressional committees issued subpoenas, called witnesses, and took depositions to collect evidence that a president committed an impeachable offense. That is the same process that is beginning to unfold in the House right now.

But then the president of the United States did this on Thursday.

Following the president’s remarks, the chair of the Federal Election Commission, Ellen Weintraub, retweeted her statement from last June saying that, “It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election.” Trump just solicited assistance from both China and Ukraine in digging up dirt on his potential 2020 opponent. Here are some of the more notable responses on Twitter.

Even Chuck Todd abandoned his bothsiderims and acknowledged that “a national nightmare is upon us.”

In their wildest fantasies, our founders probably never envisioned a president of the United States committing an impeachable offense on the White House lawn in response to a question from reporters.

So what happens now? It is feasible that the House could play the above video, reference the law, and hold an impeachment vote. I doubt that is the way this will play out. And yet, to continue with an investigation suggests that more evidence is needed, which is not the case.

Our system is not prepared to deal with a president who commits “high crimes and misdemeanors” via public statements. But this isn’t the first time that has happened.

  • While he was still a candidate, Trump said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” in reference to Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.
  • He told Lester Holt that he considered “the Russian thing” before firing FBI Director Comey.
  • He accused Representative Adam Schiff of treason.

Those are just a few examples. Of course, this is also the man who was elected president after the release of an audio tape in which he bragged about grabbing women by the p*ssy—a clear admission of sexual assault.

It is important to keep in mind that we are in uncharted territory these days. I suspect that the House will continue the impeachment investigation the way these processes have played out previously, by gathering evidence to prove that he has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But let’s be clear: Donald Trump just put all of the evidence we need out there for everyone to see. Video cameras caught it on tape. What he said is an impeachable offense.

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.