, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Good news! The Russian scandal now officially can be sung to the tune of the Twelve Days of Christmas: 12 Russian agents, Butina’s russian channel, election interference, PUTIN “STRONG AND POWERFUL!”  Which is good, because everything else is not sounding quite so festive.

The indictments of 12 Russian agents, for the hacking of the Democratic National Convention and the Clinton Presidential Campaign, and the filing of charges against Mariia Butina, a Russian woman who allegedly tried to broker secret meetings between President Putin and President Trump, further confirm  what the intelligence community already knew: that Russia interfered with the 2016 federal elections. As if that wasn’t frightening enough, our President doesn’t seem to mind. After meeting with Putin in Helsinki and asking him about the Russian meddling, Trump could only comment about the strength of Putin’s denial. Needless to say, Americans are feeling a bit miffed. But where does this leave us in the impeachment debate?

There are two arguments to be made here. The first and, most obvious, is that all this adds to potential charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. The more certain we are that Russia interfered with the election, the stronger the case for collusion becomes. Of course to establish collusion, it would have to be shown that there was some agreement between Trump and Russia. To that point it helps that there are ties between the indicted Russians and members of Trump’s campaign. In addition, though Trump’s ongoing support of Putin is not direct evidence of conspiracy, it does have a suggestive quality and could indicate a more nefarious relationship between the two.

One may also consider Trump’s reaction as an example of his unfitness. It can be argued that a failure to reprimand the leader of a country which has taken action to defraud the United States is a failure of one of the most basic duties of the President: that of the Chief Diplomat. This can be added to the list of the President’s other shortcomings; however it is unclear how long a list is required to lead to removal.

download.jpgYURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images