For Democrats, the question is whether impeachment is the right response to indisputably outrageous acts. I’ve previously been skeptical for several reasons, not least that a party-line vote in the House would simultaneously diminish the stigma of impeachment while boosting the president’s re-election chances. And I was particularly skeptical if the entire case against Trump rested on that one phone call.
Now it’s clear that it doesn’t. Whatever the political calculus, the impeachment inquiry needs to press on, aggressively.
As for Republicans, a question they might usefully ask themselves is whether the standard of behavior they now either accept or embrace in this president is one they are prepared to condone in a Democratic administration. All of their casuistry in Trump’s defense today may, and probably will, be used against them in the future. The wretched bargain that partisans inevitably make with demagogues on their side is that they inspire, and license, the demagoguery of the other.
A suggestion for Nancy Pelosi: Offer the House a vote on censure, neither as a substitute for the impeachment inquiry nor for impeachment itself, but as an opportunity for members to go on record as to how they judge the president.