Asked how I felt at the end of the momentous week just concluded -- during which the Ukraine scandal went supernova and House Democrats announced that they intend to impeach Donald Trump -- I cautiously replied that "I felt as if my shackles had been sightly loosened."
Yet this ostensible cause for celebration is, after nearly three years of wearing Trump's shackles, more of a cause for caution because we're still not free. Not by a long shot.
The Ukraine scandal, detailed with vivid exactness by an intelligence committee whistleblower, is the proverbial "smoking gun" that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was unable to sniff out over his two-year Russia scandal investigation.
"I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election," wrote the whistleblower. It doesn't get any clearer than that, as well as make it easier for House Democrats to defend against the inevitable spin, conspiracy theorizing and outright lying as pre-impeachment hearings move forward.
All of this says less about Mueller's shortcomings, which in fairness largely were because of the limitations of his remit, including a bar on indicting a sitting president, than Trump's sick world of crap, corruption and crime and his belief that because, as the Chosen One, he had gotten away with nary a scratch from his collusion with Vladimir Putin's cyberwarriors, which greased the skids for his "victory" in 2016, he was going to go down the same devious path again.
This time, using the awesome power of the American presidency, he was going to extort a foreign leader, with nearly $400 million in desperately needed military aid as the hammer, to dish nonexistent dirt on Joe Biden, his leading Democratic presidential challenger in the 2020 election, much as he had climbed into bed with Russia in dishing nonexistent dirt on Hillary Clinton in 2016. And because he was the Chosen One, he wasn't even going to bother to cover his fat ass.
(Furthermore, methinks that Putin's invisible hand is all over the Ukraine scandal.)
"It's finally clear enough to see the monsters in the fog," as Esquire's Charles Pierce puts the week's events.
But by revealing, in the whistleblower's one fell swoop, the vastness of Trump's evil empire, which we now can confirm includes his vice president, acting chief of staff, attorney general, secretary of state and ravingly mad personal lawyer and fixer, we have taken only the first step toward exterminating it, and impeachment will be an extremely fraught process. It is here that cause for caution takes center stage although those of us who felt that something really bad was going to happen to Trump -- slipping on the proverbial banana peel as I have repeatedly put it -- have been more or less vindicated.
"Our tone must be prayerful, respectful, solemn, worthy of the Constitution," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi privately told colleagues as impeachment barrels ahead with the news the anonymous whistleblower will speak behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee, which is forgoing Congress's two-week recess.
It was a week that was going to change everything, but we know all too well that the more Trump feels cornered, the more disturbed his words and actions become.
His demands that the whistleblower's identity be revealed and unsubtle suggestion that he be strung up amidst a scramble by hard core Trumpkins to unmask him was only a foretaste of what is to come. I just can't erase from my mind that Nancy Pelosi's children may face the same harm as the 22 Latinos dispatched at a Walmart store in El Paso by a white supremacist who dutifully responded to Trump's imprecations to send non-white immigrants back to their homelands with a legally-purchased semi-automatic version of the fabled AK47 assault rifle.
And then there is the "sudden" renewed interest in Clinton's emails.
As many as 130 current and former senior State Department officials who sent messages to then-Secretary of State Clinton's private email have been questioned because their emails have been retroactively classified and now constitute potential security violations in the jaundiced view of the Trump administration, another blatant abuse of presidential power to attack a political adversary.
How low can Trump go in fighting "Do Nothing Democratic Savages," as he called them in a weekend tweetstorm? You ain't seen anything yet.