For Democrats, political reasons to avoid stepping on the road to impeachment still stand. But political complications have collapsed in importance compared with reasons to move ahead.
The burning issue is no longer ordinary corruption like President Donald Trump’s skimming taxpayer money for his hotel properties or lying about payoffs to a porn star. It’s not even major corruption, like asking a hostile foreign power to help him in the 2016 election.
It stems from Trump’s astonishing decision to freeze millions in aid to Ukraine as he pushed that country’s leader to dig up dirt on his rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son. Ukraine is under attack by Vladimir Putin’s Russia and needs that money for weapons to defend itself.
We know all this from the description of a whistleblower complaint by an alarmed official in national intelligence. The Trump administration shocked many by withholding his or her report from the House Intelligence Committee.
The issue is now national security. And to understand its seriousness, note that the Republican-led Senate unanimously consented to seeking the release of the whistleblower’s complaint to the intel committees.
Until now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was putting all 10 fingers in the dam to hold off demands from the Democratic base to start the disrupting process to impeach Trump. Now Pelosi has gone ahead with an impeachment inquiry. This followed moves by moderate Democrats to drop their reluctance to go after Trump this way.
That should be a signal to all Republicans, not just swing-state ones. The dam is breaking.
We understand that an impeachment inquiry precedes making formal allegations. It is a collection of information that could eventually lead to a vote by the House to impeach the president.
And, of course, a decision to impeach does not remove the president from office. He first would have to be tried and convicted in the Senate. It still remains highly unlikely that enough Republican votes could be found there to end the presidency; even though so many Republican members of Congress secretly loathe the man.
What we need is more brave Republican men and women to stand up for their country. We’re not talking about Republicans who have decided not to run for reelection but those who are. These would be patriots willing to displease the Trump base for the public good.
This really shouldn’t be such a hard ask. Our soldiers put their lives on the line to defend this country. It would seem far less a sacrifice to risk reelection for the same cause.
The Democratic leadership’s decision to move up a rung on the ladder to impeachment still comes with risk. Once the impeachment circus gets underway, Trump will flood the national conversation with spectacle. And the issues that Democrats could win on would be totally subsumed in the noise and flashing lights. We’re talking about big public concerns on health coverage, gun control, climate change and respect for democratic norms. The national focus would be more about Trump — morning, noon and night — than it already is.
And that would be a true drawback for Democrats. After all, Trump’s poll numbers stink. His point of pride, the economy, is unlikely to get better by Election Day, and a number of indicators suggest it will be worse.
One doesn’t know what Pelosi is thinking. The presidential election is just over a year away, and removing Trump through a national vote would be the most effective way to end the madness. Chances are she’ll go where the discoveries lead. That long process could forestall an actual vote on articles of impeachment. Clearly, the time has come for all good Americans to do what they must to defend their country.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. Email her at email@example.com.