'Paul Ryan needs to think long and hard about the future of the Republican Party.'
The day after former Trump fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to committing federal crimes at Trump's direction, a veteran political journalist called on Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) to begin the process of impeaching Trump.
On Wednesday morning's edition of "The Today Show," NBC's Chuck Todd said that a "functional" Congress would begin looking at impeachment after the guilty pleas from Cohen and the eight guilty verdicts against former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort.
The normal, functional process is supposed to go something like this, Todd explained: "If the sitting president is accused of a crime, the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives would begin to look to see if there’s enough evidence to start investigating and drawing up articles of impeachment."
But "this is not a functional Congress," Todd pointed out. "This is a Congress controlled by Republicans."
He continued with a stark warning for the current Republican speaker of the House.
"Paul Ryan needs to think long and hard about the future of the Republican Party," Todd said. "This is your last chance off this train, and it looks like Manafort and Cohen only have more to say, only may cooperate more. This could get worse."
Ryan is retiring, Todd pointed out — and he could do his party a big favor on the way out if he would "just start the procedure in the House Judiciary Committee" to give those Republicans who are "getting nervous" some assurance that something is being done.
Ryan has been his usual cowardly self since the Manafort and Cohen news broke. "We are aware of Mr. Cohen's guilty plea to these serious charges," Ryan said through a spokesperson in a statement. "We will need more information than is currently available at this point."
Todd's appeal to Ryan was based on pure political calculation and not morality, but he's still right about it. Things look bad for Trump, and they're probably only going to get worse — not just for him, but also for those who support him.
After all, Trump has already been implicated in at least two federal crimes. And according to Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, there is much more where that came from.
In a series of interviews following the guilty pleas, Davis said that Cohen is willing to give special counsel Robert Mueller information about the Trump Tower meeting, Trump's advance knowledge of the Russian hacking operation, and possible state-level crimes involving the Trump Foundation.
While a speaker in a "functional" House of Representatives might take it as a moral or even political imperative to investigate a president accused of major crimes, Paul Ryan has shown no signs of such courage.
But if by some miracle Ryan does decide to take bold action to protect his own party, it will be far too little, far too late.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.