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Michael Cohen's got the receipts — but impeachment is still a big gamble

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18.01.2019

Late on Thursday night, BuzzFeed News dropped a bombshell report alleging that, finally, there's documentary evidence of Donald Trump committing a crime.

"President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter," reporters Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier write.

They also claim that Trump worked with Cohen to set up a personal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to make the Moscow Trump Tower deal happen.

Perhaps most important, Leopold and Cormier report that there are text messages, internal memos and emails to prove this — throwing a wrench in Trump's legal strategy of writing Cohen off as a liar and turning the issue into a "he said/he said" standoff.

Talk of impeaching Trump has already been on the rise in the past month, as Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives and now have the ability to file articles of impeachment. A new cover story in The Atlantic, published before the latest revelation, features senior editor Yoni Appelbaum arguing that the Democratic House majority "must immediately open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump."

Thursday night's revelations increased the pressure, with Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., tweeting "it is time for the House Judiciary Committee to start holding hearings to establish a record of whether @POTUS committed high crimes" and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, even tweeting the I-word: "If the @BuzzFeed story is true, President Trump must resign or be impeached." Joel Mathis at The Week argues that if the latest Cohen allegations are true, "Congress will have no choice but to commence impeachment proceedings, and soon." Slate revived its Impeach-O-Meter feature, arguing: "You’ve got to believe that some Republican senators are at least thinking about" dumping Trump at last.

I'm on the record as bearish on impeachment. I believe there's no chance that the Republican-controlled Senate will convict Trump. (Even if every member of the Democratic caucus votes to convict, it would take at least 20 Republican senators to remove Trump from office.) With no real prospect of conviction, I worry that an impeachment trial could backfire and allow Trump to claim he had........

© Salon