It’s become conventional shorthand, in light of the Ukraine revelations, to say that Pelosi could no longer rein in the liberal voices in her caucus who had been pressing for impeachment for months. But that’s an oversimplification. Even the reluctant freshman moderates from Trump-leaning districts who had been loath to call for impeachment changed their views after the Ukraine phone call, as did the Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff of California. “Are you ready?” Pelosi asked her members in a closed-door caucus meeting on Wednesday, like a good lawyer posing a question to which she already knows the answer.

“This brings them no joy, believe me,” former Representative Tom Downey of New York, a longtime Pelosi friend, says of the speaker and her leadership team. She’d prefer to tussle with Trump “over prescription-drug coverage and health care—anything other than this. The outcome is foreordained in the Senate, but she can’t escape her responsibility—and the House’s responsibility—to bring this president to the bar of justice.”…

“The reality is that the president has given her no choice,” Downey adds, echoing Pelosi’s own words. “Of the options here, none of them are good, but the worst option—both in the judgment of history and for the precedential reasons that she’s elaborated—is to do nothing. The House has to say that this is unacceptable, and we’ve exhaustively looked at the facts and we find you to have violated your oath of office, and so you’re going to be impeached. That’s the beginning and the end of our responsibility. To do nothing is to say the behavior is okay, and it’s not okay.”