Watergate prosecutor: New indictments are 'first step toward impeachment'


"Donald Trump has not lived up to his constitutional duty to protect America."

Special counsel Robert Mueller's indictment of 13 Russians connected to the Trump campaign raises fresh questions about who in America, and potentially the campaign itself, gave the Kremlin inside help in disrupting the U.S. presidential election.

The indictments upend Trump's attempts to smear the Russia investigation as a "witch-hunt." And as former Watergate assistant special prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks told MSNBC's Chris Hayes Monday night, they also point to a "dereliction of duty" on Trump's part to protect the nation.

And that, she says, is "an impeachable offense."

"Donald Trump has not lived up to his constitutional duty to protect America," said Wine-Banks. "And we have a real threat to democracy with the interference in our elections. And we need some leadership here."

"Donald Trump should be asking Congress to pass new legislation that will protect the 2018 election. And he has done absolutely nothing, he has been totally silent on this," she continued. "In fact, if anything, he has, despite his recent statements that, well, it could have been Russia, he has many times said it's not even Russia. And we need him to take some responsibility for this."

Wine-Banks concluded, "I think that this is the first step toward an impeachment, because this is an impeachable offense."

"The dereliction that you see here?" Hayes pressed her.

"It is a dereliction of duty, absolutely."

Even though Trump has recently seemed to claim that he knew all along Russia interfered with the election, that is not what he said two years ago, or even three days ago.

Moreover, regardless of whether Trump was an active participant in Russia's interference, the FBI warned him it was going on during the campaign, and he still publicly told the world it was all a fake story.

As president, Trump has done nothing about the threat. He even refused to implement the Russia sanctions passed almost unanimously by Congress last year.

Wine-Banks is not the only Watergate prosecutor appalled at Trump's conduct. On CNN, Richard Ben-Veniste, another attorney in the investigation, compared Trump to "The Godfather." And yet another Watergate prosecutor, Nick Ackerman, denounced Trump's push against Mueller as "a completely evil strategy."

If indeed Trump knowingly allowed a foreign power to attack the central institutions of our country, then Wine-Banks is right: The time to discuss impeachment is now.