The Trump administration is researching how impeachment proceedings against the president might go, according to CNN’s Evan Perez, who’s talked to people “briefed on” the White House counsel’s legal defense work.
The CNN report makes it clear that the White House doesn’t think impeachment is likely to happen at all — and that it certainly won’t be anytime soon. While two House Democrats have called for impeachment, even House Democratic leadership is waiting for more developments in the federal investigation now led by special counsel Robert Mueller — and without substantial support from the House’s Republican majority, impeachment proceedings won’t get started.
But in another sense, the White House’s ostensibly hypothetical research isn’t happening a moment too soon. (If they’re interested in how impeachment works, luckily, Vox’s Andrew Prokop has explained it.)
President Trump has already all but admitted to firing FBI Director James Comey for investigating his campaign’s ties with the Russian government. The Mueller-led investigation apparently has now expanded to include the White House’s alleged cover-up of the real reasons for firing Comey — and its probe into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia has reportedly identified a top White House adviser as a “person of interest.”
The CNN report portrays the impeachment research as one part of a broader effort by the White House counsel’s office (led by Trump ally Donald McGahn) to “bolster the president's legal defense.” Trump himself is being told to get a lawyer, according to the CNN report. But it appears they’re finally understanding that the Trump administration is in serious legal trouble — and are willing to consider that the worst-case scenario might at some point be on the table.