Allahpundit tweeted out earlier that today will be known in history as The Day of Hot Takes as the political world awaits James Comey’s testimony, but perhaps not in this sense of hot. “What the president was doing was trying to sort of seduce him,” Charles Krauthammer told Bret Baier last night after the release of Comey’s prepared testimony, “but seduction is not an impeachable offense. Well,” Krauthammer quips, “perhaps in the ’90s, but not any more.” The conversation picks up at the 6:35 mark in the segment below (via Leah Barkoukis):
“What the president was doing was trying to sort of seduce him,” he said, “but seduction is not an impeachable offense.
Krauthammer said the comments need to be seen from Trump’s point of view, arguing that he was frustrated Comey didn’t publicly announce that the president wasn’t under investigation.
“This is not obstruction,” he added. “This is not shutting the investigation down. It could be throwing some of these people under the bus, but it is saying on the big one… how about letting the world know? That is a totally plausible scenario.”
What constitutes an impeachable offense is entirely a subjective matter. The Constitution requires “high crimes and misdemeanors” as the basis of an impeachment (for all federal officials, including the president), but leaves it to the House to define those. Congress has impeached two American presidents, one of which committed a significant crime (Bill Clinton, perjury and obstruction of justice) and the other who got more or less railroaded for purely political reasons (Andrew Johnson). Had Richard Nixon not resigned, he would have surely been both impeached and removed by the Senate, but serious underlying crimes in Watergate had already been revealed.
Basically, the definition of an impeachable offense is … whatever the House believes to be an impeachable offense. It’s difficult to believe that this will rise to that level for a couple of reasons. First, Republicans control the House, and so far Trump has not alienated his own party, as Nixon had by mid-1974. Second, the revelations in Comey’s testimony simply don’t add up to criminal actions or even criminal intent — and if we needed assurance of that, we have it from Comey himself, who never reported any of it until yesterday, and never resigned. That point will undoubtedly get raised at today’s hearing, perhaps repeatedly.
Absent the potential for impeachment, what remains for today’s testimony is more debate over the qualities of Trump’s leadership and judgment, or lack thereof. That didn’t start with Comey’s testimony, and it won’t end with it either.