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The move in the House to start an impeachment inquiry has come on so fast after revelations from the CIA whistleblower that Trump and the White House are flummoxed and flailing. He is used to using Twitter to set the news agenda every day, creating chaos and conflict for everyone else while he sits back and enjoys the show. But in this case he has entirely lost control of the agenda: he’s the one responding desperately to each new development.

Trump Off Balance

His first, calamitous response to the news of the whistleblower’s alarm about his call with the president of Ukraine, was entirely uncharacteristic. Rather than stonewalling, blocking release of further information (as he usually does), he decreed release of the (apparently redacted) transcript of the conversation, and shortly thereafter the unclassified text of the whistleblower’s complaint. The transcript corroborates the complaint. He thus provided two critical pieces of evidence for an article of impeachment. Just handed them over!

Still, though Biden continues to lead most polls for the Democratic nomination, his support is neither overwhelming nor intense.

He then compounds his situation by doubling down on his obsession with alleged (but unfounded) misdeeds by Joe and Hunter Biden. No one outside the American hard right gives any credence to these charges of corruption, but Trump uses the old Hillary playbook to just keep repeating the same lies. In 2016 that tactic was enough to depress Hillary’s vote and let him win the Electoral College. Now, only his base of 40 percent will believe it. And they won’t vote for any Democrat.

Still, though Biden continues to lead most polls for the Democratic nomination, his support is neither overwhelming nor intense. Trump’s obsession might actually depress support for Biden among some Democrats. Remember how some Bernie supporters in 2016 bought the whole Trump story about Hillary, and voted for Jill Stein.

Meanwhile, coincidentally, there is Bernie’s heart stent adventure. He will no doubt recover physically and perhaps be better than before, but the episode will certainly remind some voters to be concerned about his (and Biden’s) age.

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The net result, for Trump, is that he potentially knocks off Biden when he obviously assumed Biden would be his opponent. Bernie may burn out too. That leaves Trump facing Elizabeth Warren. He’ll try the “Pocahontas” thing, but it won’t work. She’ll take him apart.

There’s more. Wanting to know who the whistleblower is. Talking about how such people were dealt with in the old days. Accusing the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee of treason. Pressing China to investigate the Bidens. The “witch hunt” meme.

And Pence, trying to help, remarks that it would certainly be legitimate to investigate whether an incumbent vice president had profited from his official duties. Once might ask the same about his boss.

This might not end up in impeachment. If accumulating evidence does not move a lot of Republican senators, the House could just censure Trump, leaving him in office for the voters’ disposal. He must be called to account for his abuses of his office. Censure would do that.

Then the people need to reject him and his enablers at the ballot box. And it needs to be a rejection so overwhelming that he can’t deny it, and neither can his base. If it’s close, he’ll resort to any lie to stay in power—and out of jail.

impeachment unavoidable

John Peeler

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