Calls to impeach President Donald Trump are growing louder as the White House grapples with the resignation of Michael Flynn, Trump's national security adviser, who may have broken the law by discussing US sanctions with Russia's ambassador over the phone before Trump took office.
The White House now says Trump was briefed about the situation weeks ago, even though the president told reporters he was unaware of the phone calls just last week. The scandal prompted numerous observers to ask what everyone in Washington is wondering: "What did the president know and when did he know it?" The question harkens back to the Watergate scandal that was the beginning of the end for President Nixon.
"The ultimate problem then was President Nixon himself, and the ultimate problem now is President Trump himself," said Norman Solomon, an organizer with Roots Action, one of the groups organizing a push to impeach Trump. "What's happened with Flynn is just another indicator of the lying and corruption that fester all around Trump -- and he is at the core."
Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress gave mixed signals on Tuesday about launching investigations into the matter, with top House Republicans refusing to commit, at least not to an investigation with a scope that could land Trump or other White House officials in hot water. Congressional Democrats, on the other hand, are demanding an independent, bipartisan investigation into Russia's influence over the Trump administration and the recent elections.
"Flynn’s resignation is a reflection of the poor judgment of President Trump and demands answers to the grave questions over the president’s involvement," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement yesterday. "By what authority did Flynn act and to whom did he report?"
Lingering in the background is North Korea's aggressive missile launch over the weekend. A bystander videotaped the president responding the launch while entertaining the president of Japan, an ally much closer to Pyongyang's range of fire, at his Mar-a-Lago resort club in south Florida. The video showed up on Facebook, raising additional national security concerns.
As questions fly in the wake of the Flynn scandal, the grassroots campaign Impeach Donald Trump Now has gathered 860,000 signatures on a petition to impeach the president. The campaign cites Trump's various conflicts of interest in the world of business as grounds for impeachment. Catherine Ross, a law professor at George Washington University and an adviser to the impeachment group, said on Tuesday that recent reports show Trump has failed to cut ties from his business as required by law.
"President Trump has likely been violating the Constitution since the moment he was inaugurated because he refused to divest himself of ownership of the Trump Organization and all of its businesses and properties," Ross said in a statement. "Profits from those business interests, we learned a week ago, are expressly being held for him."
On Thursday, the campaign will lay out its case for impeachment for the media, which rests on the "emoluments" clause of the Constitution. Ross said the clause prohibits the president from receiving payments, business opportunities, "sweetheart deals" and other favors from the federal or foreign governments, but the Trump Organization's "aggressive plan for expansion" would "entangle the company with every level of government."
"Ultimately that's key to the growing campaign to impeach Trump," Solomon told Truthout. "Throwing some of his appointees and sycophants overboard won't address the crux of the underlying reality that Trump is violating the Constitution every moment with flagrant contempt for its foreign and domestic emoluments clauses."
Any criminal activity revealed by a probe into Flynn's calls with Russia or the dozens of lawsuits against Trump and his business could make him vulnerable to calls for impeachment as well.
The Democratic pollsters at Public Policy Polling said last week that likely voters are equally divided on impeaching Trump, with 46 percent in favor, up from 35 percent in late January. The poll was taken before the Flynn's resignation. Other polls last week showed Trump's approval rating dipping as low as 40 percent.
The word "impeachment" is not only making waves among the public -- Democrats in Congress are already flirting with the idea. Last week, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York introduced a resolution of inquiry into Trump's finances that serves as the first legislative step towards determining grounds for impeachment.
Of course, congressional Democrats would have to turn a number of Republicans against a president from their own party in order to move against Trump, making impeachment seem unlikely, at least in the first term. Trump is a novice statesman who lost the popular vote by a substantial margin, so it's no surprise the polls show that many people would rather see him gone.
Still, the Trump administration is not just upsetting liberals and former Hillary Clinton supporters. The White House's most recent blunders strike right at the heart of an issue dear to many Republican hearts -- perceived "national security" and the United States' position as the dominant world power. How big of a mess does Trump have to make before his purported allies throw their hands up and say, "enough"?