Democrats must start impeachment hearings -- or democracy will permanently suffer: political scientist
Donald Trump addresses the Kansas State Republican caucus. (mark reinstein /

Brian Klaas, an assistant professor of global politics at University College London, has written an editorial for the Washington Post in which he argues congressional Democrats have a constitutional obligation to begin impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump.

Reacting to a letter signed by hundreds of former federal prosecutors arguing that Trump would face "multiple felony charges" were there not a Department of Justice policy against indicting a sitting president, Klaas argues that impeachment is now the only way to hold the president accountable.

In particular, Klaas says that letting Trump get away with obstructing the Mueller probe will only ensure all future presidents will interfere in investigations into themselves or their associates.

"If he wins reelection without even enduring so much as an impeachment hearing, then that will encourage future presidents to commit corrupt or criminal acts," he writes. "After all, Trump will have gotten away with it 'Scott Free.' Impeachment hearings should therefore begin immediately to preserve the rule of law and protect democracy."

Klaas also takes Democratic leadership to task for fearing that starting impeachment hearings against Trump will generate a political backlash -- and he warns that the damage to democracy done by not starting hearings is even graver.l

"So here’s a question for congressional leaders: Precisely how many crimes does someone have to commit before impeachment hearings are warranted?" he writes. "Does the person in question get a pass if it’s three or fewer? Was there some clause in the Constitution that I missed that says it’s okay for the president to direct a criminal conspiracy in certain circumstances?"

Read the whole editorial here.