Over the weekend, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff wrote an op-ed arguing that Democrats should back off the impeachment talk and focus on policy. I have no idea whether that’s the politically savvy move (with 64 million Democratic voters, I think we can do both). But Schiff is disturbingly wrong about whether there are grounds for impeachment: with what we know today, Il Trumpe is already impeachment-worthy. First, there are his ongoing violations of the Emoluments cause. Second, we come across this attempt to smear the former Iran nuclear deal negotiators (boldface mine):
Aides to Donald Trump, the US president, hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to orchestrate a “dirty ops” campaign against key individuals from the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, the Observer can reveal.
People in the Trump camp contacted private investigators in May last year to “get dirt” on Ben Rhodes, who had been one of Barack Obama’s top national security advisers, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama, as part of an elaborate attempt to discredit the deal…
According to incendiary documents seen by the Observer, investigators contracted by the private intelligence agency were told to dig into the personal lives and political careers of Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, and Kahl, a national security adviser to the former vice-president Joe Biden. Among other things they were looking at personal relationships, any involvement with Iran-friendly lobbyists, and if they had benefited personally or politically from the peace deal.
Investigators were also apparently told to contact prominent Iranian Americans as well as pro-deal journalists – from the New York Times, MSNBC television, the Atlantic, Vox website and Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper among others – who had frequent contact with Rhodes and Kahl in an attempt to establish whether they had violated any protocols by sharing sensitive intelligence. They are believed to have looked at comments made by Rhodes in a 2016 New York Times profile in which he admitted relying on inexperienced reporters to create an “echo chamber” that helped sway public opinion to secure the deal. It is also understood that the smear campaign wanted to establish if Rhodes was among those who backed a request by Susan Rice, Obama’s final national security adviser, to unmask the identities of Trump transition officials caught up in the surveillance of foreign targets…
Neither is it known if the black ops constituted only a strand of a wider Trump-Netanyahu collaboration to undermine the deal or if investigators targeted other individuals such as John Kerry, the lead American signatory to the deal. Both Rhodes and Kahl said they had no idea of the campaign against them. Rhodes said: “I was not aware, though sadly am not surprised. I would say that digging up dirt on someone for carrying out their professional responsibilities in their positions as White House officials is a chillingly authoritarian thing to do.”
Meanwhile, Kahl noted on the Twitterz:
Last year, my wife was serving on the fundraising committee of my daughter’s public charter school in DC. One day, out of the blue, she received an email from someone claiming to represent a socially responsible private equity firm in the UK… My wife shared the email with me and a few people we know in both the finance and education fields. All agreed that the entire scenario seemed implausible and seemed like an approach by a foreign intelligence entity… Perhaps it was just a coincidence that this obvious scam targeting my family had all the hallmarks of an intel op and coincided with Team Trump’s reported efforts to “dig up dirt” on me. But the fact that I even have to think about the possibility that my family was targeted by people working for the President is yet another sign of the fundamental degradation of our country that Trump has produced.
Also worth noting that this appears to be the same firm that slimed Harvey Weinstein’s accusers.
Maybe it’s not smart politics to talk about impeachment, but there are absolutely grounds for doing so. Democrats need to learn to stop criticizing their ‘irresponsible’ allies, and let them run with it.