Nearly four months ago, I argued that even though impeachment of the president remains unpopular, the scope of Trump’s violations and the lack of any other way to bring him to account would eventually require the Democrats in the House to vote for impeachment, even in the face of a likely failure of the Senate to convict.
Almost two months ago I reviewed some of the major ways Trump is unfit to hold office.
Now we have increasingly credible news that Trump tried to induce the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden and his son, a move obviously intended to tarnish his most likely 2020 opponent. Ukraine is vulnerable to pressure because of its ongoing conflict with Russia, and Trump made his meaning clear by holding up military aid. And the Ukrainians know that Trump has close ties with Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.
We know the outlines of this story because an intelligence official was so alarmed at promises Trump made that he/she submitted a whistle-blower complaint, which was judged by the intelligence Inspector General to be highly significant. But the administration is refusing to release the whistle-blower’s account to the intelligence committees of Congress. What we know is from leaks.
The grounds for impeachment continue to grow, even as Nancy Pelosi’s conventional political calculus still counsels caution.
So the grounds for impeachment continue to grow, even as Nancy Pelosi’s conventional political calculus still counsels caution.
We have reached the point, however, in light of all of Trump’s violations of law and endangerment of national security when the House Democrats must move decisively toward impeachment, or be complicit in a presidency that has endangered our constitutional order and our democracy. They should do so even though the Senate Republicans will block a conviction.
Remember that in both the Nixon and Clinton impeachments, the president’s partisans mostly stuck with him. A few Republican senatorial defections pushed Nixon to resign; there were not enough Democratic defections to convict Clinton
Along with systematically building a substantive and procedural base for impeachment, Democrats must begin to make a strong case for it in the court of public opinion. Most Republicans will never come around, but wavering independents could tip the polls in favor of impeachment. And that could tip a few Republican Senators.
In the end, though, the Senate won’t convict. The final verdict will be in the hands of the voters in 2020. By then, if Democrats have had the backbone to vote for impeachment even if it has a political price, they will look better than if they thought he should be impeached but didn’t have the guts to do it.