Yesterday, Sen. John McCain said the word that no Republican had yet dared to speak in connection with the unfolding Trump/Russia controversy: Watergate.
At an event in D.C., Sen. McCain said the drama emanating from Trump has reached "Watergate size and scale." He added, "This is not good for the country."
McCain — who is burnishing his reputation as the Senate's straight-shooting grandpa who has a dwindling supply of f—s to give — spoke after a New York Times story revealed that Trump allegedly pressured FBI Director James Comey to abandon an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Comey kept a memo of the February meeting. Trump fired Comey last week, raising the spectre that the president committed obstruction of justice by trying to impede the FBI's investigation into ties between his presidential campaign and Russia.
McCain is the highest-profile Republican to criticize the president in this way. This morning, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Michigan, was the first GOP member to raise the prospect of impeachment. Asked by The Hill if Comey's memo would warrant impeachment if true, Amash said, "Yes." He added, "But everybody gets a fair trial in this country." At a reporter's prodding, Amash said he had "more confidence in" Comey than Trump.
Democrats, meanwhile, have started to use the word "impeachment" themselves. This morning, Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, called for Trump's impeachment on the House floor. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, has not been reticent to use the term and has been rewarded with memes as a result. Maine's Sen. Angus King, an independent, has floated the prospect.
Although they did not use the "I" or "W" words, several Democrats — led by House intelligence committee members Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell — held a news conference this morning calling for an independent commission to investigate the Trump/Russia matter.
An independent commission has a very different purpose than an independent prosecutor. Both are warranted. Here's why: pic.twitter.com/8u3hvNdDAf— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 17, 2017
Republicans have continued to be supportive or silent. Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he had confidence in Trump, but there are reports that the ground is shifting as of the latest Times story, with more Republicans calling for an investigation.