For Republicans with stomachs too sensitive to tolerate even this level of dissimulation on behalf of the president, we arrive at the most respectable position on the spectrum — the one the coincides with good, old-fashioned partisan loyalty and hesitation about acting rashly to oust the president. These situational Trumpians — I’m looking at you, Mitt Romney — will lavish Bolton with praise, speak sternly about Trump making a mistake in his dealings with Ukraine, but then gravely explain that they aren’t going to vote to convict and remove him from office.
In taking this position, the situational Trumpians will echo the statements of Democrats who conceded in 1999 that Bill Clinton shouldn’t have perjured himself in a deposition about his affair with Monica Lewinsky but also refused to countenance the Republican drive to eject him from the White House. “What the president did was bad, but not bad enough to warrant removal from office” — that position will always anger those prosecuting an impeachment, but it’s a respectable, cautious stance rooted in a non-pathological form of partisanship and a healthy restraint when faced with the prospect of removing the nation’s top elected official.
It’s important to keep in mind that conservatives had much less respect for this position when Democrats staked it out 21 years ago.