|BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP-GETTY IMAGES|
The truth is the most precious commodity in a state run by an authoritarian, and so it has been in the Age of Donald Trump. Look no further than the president's resident sage, Rudy Giuliani, who has proudly declared "truth isn't truth." So when the truth does out, as it has in the case of John Durham, who has perhaps inadvertently delivered something of a twofer for the forces of good, that is cause for both celebration and concern.
Trump's long-propounded claim that copiously document proof of Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election was all a big hoax has been central to his assault on the truth, as has more recently been that lie's wicked stepbrother, that it actually was Ukraine who meddled.
Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, privately asked Connecticut U.S. Attorney Durham, who has been carrying out Attorney General William Barr's so-called review of the origins of the FBI's investigation into Russian election interference and the Trump's campaign involvement in it for a forthcoming report. Inconveniently for Trump and Barr (Horowitz is genuinely independent and doesn't have a horse in the race), Durham has found that the basis of the investigation was legitimate, according to news reports.
The cause for celebration is obvious, while the cause for concern is less immediately apparent until you understand that Barr's exertions, whether whitewashing the Mueller report or trying to prop up Trump's big lie by calling in Durham, are all the evidence you need that the constitutional experts called by House Democrats this week are correct when they say impeachment proceedings must continue apace because Trump poses a present and continuing threat to our democracy.
Look no further than the Ukraine scandal in which the president tried to extort a foreign leader into helping him rig the 2020 election as the Russians did in 2016, and you understand that it is a dead certainty that he will continue using the levers of government to corrupt it on his behalf.
Speaking of present and continuing threats, look no further than Giuliani himself.
The sociopathic ringleader of Trump's Ukraine shakedown has traveled to Budapest and Kiev where he is meeting with shadowy Ukrainian figures to keep trying to build the thoroughly debunked case that Joe Biden and his son acted corruptly in Ukraine. Giuliani is participating in the filming of a fake "documentary" designed to make that narrative seem true. Yes, Giuliani is still trying to achieve the same goals that drove the corrupt plot for which Trump is being impeached back in Washington.
The integral element of Trump's continuing misconduct is Russia.
"Russia. It's about Russia," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday in announcing that she had instructed investigators to begin drafting articles of impeachment. "All roads lead to Putin. Understand that."
Indeed, Russia was the beneficiary of Trump's decision to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid unless Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky danced to his tune.
Two dates are especially important here in the context of Trump's relationship with Russia and his snarling unrepentedness.
On July 24, Robert Mueller delivered a muted but still powerful condemnation of Russia's interference in the 2016 election with the Trump campaign's willing help, as well as Trump's multiple efforts to obstruct the special counsel's investigation, in an appearance before three congressional committees where he was grilled about his report on the Russia scandal.
On July 25, an obviously unchastened Trump rang up Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to tell him he would have to interfere in the 2020 election by announcing a corruption investigation into the Bidens and play along in acknowledging that it was Ukraine and not Russia who hacked all those Democratic emails in 2016 if he wanted that military aid, let alone a coveted White House visit.
Pelosi's House Democrats are now considering including articles of impeachment that address Trump's ties to Moscow as detailed in the Mueller report and the president's efforts to shut down or curtail the special counsel's investigation. These probably would include obstruction of justice in addition to three articles stemming from the Ukraine scandal -- abuse of power, obstruction of Congress and possibly bribery.
I had preferred that the articles be confined to the Ukraine scandal in the service of keeping things simple, but that was shortsighted. We have only one chance to impeach the most corrupt president in American history, a monster who has committed -- and in whose name his minions have committed -- an array of offenses so staggeringly immense and evil that it still is almost impossible to grasp the scope. So we need to pile on.
I write this knowing that not even impeachment is likely to curtail the present and continuing threat of Trump, but we have to take that shot. The evidence is overwhelming. Waiting for the November 2020 election is not an option, obsessing about whether impeachment might make Democratic candidates more vulnerable in swing districts is a waste of time, and while Don McGahn, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo and others should be compelled to testify, waiting interminably for court rulings is not an option.
As Pelosi recognizes, we have to take that shot now. For history and for America.