Well, just when Democrats are in danger of giving in to faintheartedness, you can count on Trump to rescue them from their risk aversion.
All the smoking-gun material laid out in the Mueller report was not quite enough to push the House Democratic leadership to support impeachment. The sins of the 2016 campaign increasingly felt like yesterday’s news. But then Trump tried one more time to enlist a foreign power to damage a political rival—not in 2016 but just two months ago. And he left his fingerprints all over the deed.
Looking back over this history, the similarities to Watergate are uncanny. Right up until the spring of 1974, nearly two years after the break-in, public opinion and most Democrats were impeachment averse. But then Nixon kept doing himself in and forcing the Democrats’ hand.
The people who said that impeachment would be a distraction from the 2020 election were wrong, both before Trump’s Ukraine gambit, and even more so now. The 2020 election is about many things, but foremost among them are Trump’s abuse of office and the rule of law. Impeachment brings that front and center.
Skeptics also argued that the Republican-controlled Senate would never vote to convict, so why bother? This is also wrong. As public opinion moves, so does Senate opinion. It will be very salutary for Democrats to put Senate Republicans on the defensive, as they try to excuse the indefensible.
Republicans were contemptuous of Trump in 2016, and their loyalty to him is purely expedient and transactional. If he becomes seen as fatally damaged goods, that loyalty could evaporate.
We are into a new act of this farce. It took Trump to give Democrats a backbone, but we will now see a newly emboldened Democratic House and a whole new dynamic.