Trump’s behavior on Ukraine has been just outrageous enough to cause House Democrats to see their duty clear: he must be impeached. I think he planned it this way. If the Democrats do impeach him, he’s managed to deny them the critical witnesses who could provide the smoking gun to move at least some Republicans. The hearings thus far have neither materially moved public opinion nor changed any Republican votes in Congress. So an impeachment trial in the Senate will be a pro-Trump rally, leading to acquittal. He will then spend the campaign excoriating Democrats and crowing about how he’s been exonerated.
If they don’t impeach, he will have cemented the precedents for further unchecked abuses of power. By doing their constitutional duty as they see it, House Democrats have fallen into Trump’s trap.
And if they don’t impeach, he will have cemented the precedents for further unchecked abuses of power. By doing their constitutional duty as they see it, House Democrats have fallen into Trump’s trap.
Trump and his minions are already fully engaged in spinning the situation to his advantage (“fraud,” “waste of time,” “witch hunt”), and it will only get worse as the campaign grinds on. They know the name of the game is framing the issue, and that’s what they’re doing, with little effective opposition from the Democrats, so far.
The Democrats are playing it straight, trying to look judiciously sorrowful and decorously dyspeptic. The polls show pretty consistently that they have the most tenuous of margins in favor of impeachment and removal. They risk losing even that if they don’t get a consistent and straightforward story out there, forcefully presented by every Democrat at every opportunity.
They (we) must make the case that Trump’s misdeeds were such a serious threat to the integrity of our constitutional system that the House had a duty to formally accuse (impeach) him, even if Senate Republicans will never convict him. Condemn the Republicans for enabling Trump’s abuses of power.
And then appeal forcefully to the patriotism of the majority of the electorate who despise him, to turn out and defeat him in November.
Trump is the issue. Impeachment is a distraction.