This is a useful example because it’s been apparent for a while that Trump doesn’t want to be an American Mussolini so much as he wants to be a less legislatively minded L.B.J. — meaning that his conception of the presidency belongs to the middle of the 20th century, when a casual corruption was more commonplace, and presidents routinely used their powers to spy on political opponents (as L.B.J. did to Barry Goldwater) or undermine them, enable their private appetites (cough, J.F.K.) and cover up their scandals.

In this sense, Trump’s conduct is indeed more historically normal than the twilight-of-the-Republic rhetoric of his impeachers would suggest. But this defense weakens when you consider that post-Watergate America very clearly tried to establish rules against precisely the sort of behavior that was normal for J.F.K. and L.B.J…

So the more modest case for Trump’s impeachment isn’t that it upholds a standard that’s been honored since the founding. It’s that after Richard Nixon we made an effort to limit the space for presidents to abuse their power, such limits are good things, and letting Trump get away with his Ukraine maneuver would be a form of backsliding — one that would encourage further abuses from a presidency whose direct power over policy now arguably exceeds its powers in any era in the past.