The impeachment fight under Trump is quickly surpassing the reach of the presidential impeachment battles under Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, swallowing even larger swaths of the federal government. The whistleblower complaint and the resulting investigative sprawl are making the probe harder for Trump and his White House to stamp out, with Democrats gaining new avenues to uncover damaging details that contradict Trump.

And a president who loves to be in control is increasingly finding himself out of it, left to lob angry tweets from the White House residence or the Oval Office as he and a handful of emissaries — such as personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — function as their own uncoordinated rapid-response operation.

“Every time Rudy Giuliani says something on TV, he lays out a new path for the Democrats to follow,” said Chris Lu, former deputy chief counsel for the Democratic staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a former top aide to President Barack Obama.

For Trump and his administration, the widening investigation risks freezing up principals in key agencies, slowing down progress on any remaining policy initiatives and triggering caution among political players who might have been in a position to advocate for him throughout 2020.