If it comes down to an impeachment of Donald J. Trump, many of the congressional Republicans who are defending him now will have to face down their former selves.
One of them is U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who in 1998 led the House impeachment team that brought charges against President Bill Clinton.
It was a time when then-Rep. Graham said that the House didn’t need to have a high crime and misdemeanor to determine whether a president had debased his high office. He made the case that President Clinton had debased and disgraced the office through his affair with a young White House intern.
It turned out that the GOP found a crime on which to impeach the president: perjury. Clinton spoke falsely to a grand jury about that relationship. House GOP members said that you just can’t allow a president to break the law.
If we now fast-forward to the present day we have another president who might have broken the law. He might have authorized illegal payments to two women to keep them quiet about sexual encounters he had with them.
Graham and other Republicans have reset the bar. It’s much higher now than it was when they had a Democratic president in their crosshairs.
However, even the president’s own lawyer — Rudolph Giuliani — says that Trump likely broke the law with the payments. Is that an impeachable offense? Will Republicans who once impeached a Democratic president for arguably an equal crime be able to do the same with a president from their own political party?
This is where we might be able to see what wires certain members of the House of Representatives.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We need to see the final report from special counsel Robert Mueller. Trump keeps insisting that Mueller doesn’t have anything. We’ll just have to see about that.