Finalized articles of impeachment have just set Donald Trump on a clear path to prison

No matter what House Democrats ultimately end up deciding to do or not do with regard to impeachment, there will be no shortage of second-guessing from the pundits and the public. Even now, we’re simultaneously hearing arguments that the articles of impeachment should have been sent to the Senate already, that they shouldn’t be sent yet, that there should be more than two articles, that there should be fewer than two articles, and that certain buzz words should or should not be included.

Surprisingly enough, however, it turns out that smart people like Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler do in fact know what they’re doing. For instance, they made clear in a court filing today that they’re keeping the door open to additional articles of impeachment once the courts inevitably turn over evidence in Donald Trump’s various other criminal scandals. In fact the key word here is criminal.

The House Judiciary Committee released the finalized iteration of the two existing articles of impeachment today, and it turns out the House Democrats have made a point of including language that spells out that Donald Trump committed “multiple federal crimes.” This matters for few reasons. In the short term, it makes clear to the general public that Trump really is a criminal, which should help nudge the ever-slowly-climbing impeachment poll numbers even higher. It takes away any Republican argument in the court of public opinion that Trump shouldn’t be impeached because he’s not even accused of committing a crime.

But there’s something more here. These articles of impeachment are a clear directive to the post-Trump Department of Justice that it must criminally investigate Donald Trump in the Ukraine scandal, indict and arrest him once he’s no longer in office, and then put him on criminal trial. This means Trump is going to prison on federal charges, unless he pardons himself on the way out the door and the courts let it stand. Either way, the grand jury in New York is going to arrest Trump on state charges as soon as he’s no longer in office, and Trump can’t pardon himself on those.

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