The Republican-controlled Senate will almost certainly not vote to remove Trump from office no matter how convincing the evidence of his criminality. But the process of impeachment by the House and a trial by the Senate would undercut the idea that prosecution is equivalent to partisanship. It would be a vivid illustration that American presidents – Republicans as well as Democrats – are bound by the rule of law and the US constitution.
The nation did not need such a demonstration in 1974: Republican leaders of that era forced their own president from office. Today’s Republicans will not do the same, and their complicity threatens to turn America into an autocracy.
Trump is certainly aware of the power that acquiescent Republicans have afforded him and that as soon as he is out of office, he can be charged with crimes. He recently told reporters he was different from Nixon because Nixon left. “I don’t leave,” Trump said. “Big difference. I don’t leave.”