Eyes are on former FBI chief Robert Mueller as he investigates Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as the possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Following Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, politicians and civil rights groups have begun to call for further investigation, and even impeachment. Amidst all the uproar, Trump has continued to act of his own volition — confusing allies and upsetting others.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday on Trump’s disclosure of classified information to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Trump shared information from intelligence agencies on the Islamic State, though the White House has denied the accuracy of the report.
Following the report, however, Trump took to Twitter the following day to explain that he had the right to disclose classified information.
“This damages our trust with our closest ally in the Middle East and will make it harder to succeed in our counterterrorism efforts,” Mike Sexton, a gay national security analyst in D.C. said. “I think this underscores a point Michael Hayden made during the election that Trump may be a useful idiot … of the Russian Federation. It is fallacious to assume that, for Trump to serve as an intelligence asset for the Russian government, he must be acting under the threat of blackmail or even witting of his status as an asset for the Russians.”
Following the reports of Trump’s disclosure, the New York Times broke a story on a memo written by recently fired FBI Director James Comey prior to his termination. In the memo he recorded that Trump had told him to drop the investigation of Flynn’s ties to Russia. Comey’s account was later corroborated by FBI officials who were aware of Trump and Comey’s conversation, according to the Washington Blade.
Trump addressed the surmounting scandals Wednesday morning while speaking to graduates at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Mixed in with encouraging messages to the cadets to pursue their goals, Trump suggested that the media has targeted him unfairly, in the last few days and throughout his time in office.
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” Trump told the cadets. “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can’t let them get you down, you can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams.”
Shannon Minter, the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, believes an independent investigation is the correct course of action at this time, but stated that impeachment may be an appropriate follow-up depending on the investigation’s results.
“We strongly support an independent investigation of reported allegations that President Trump tried to interfere with FBI investigations of Flynn and possibly the president himself,” Minter said. “If those allegations are substantiated, he should be impeached. This administration’s corruption, abuse of power, and disrespect for the rule of law have already created serious grounds for concern. The new allegations, if accurate, cross a dangerous line and threaten the integrity of our system of checks and balances to a degree that would warrant impeachment.”
Though many rights organizations are behind the investigation into the Trump administration’s ties to Russia and potential impeachment, there is worry that Trump’s impeachment would have serious consequences for the LGBT community.
According to the Washington Blade, Trump has so far declined to enable anti-LGBT discrimination, but his impeachment would elevate Vice President Mike Pence, a proponent of the “religious freedom” executive order and friend to many social conservatives, to the Oval Office.
Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, cautioned against making a rash call for impeachment before correct fact gathering, which would lead to a stronger case.
“We would like the entire Trump administration swept out of the office, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Davidson said. “The focus right now needs to be on getting Congress to do its job, conduct a proper investigation of the many troubling indications of wrongdoing, follow the evidence rather than spin or ‘alternative facts,’ and protect the Constitution and the nation.”