What are usually the hard questions are easy this time. He did it. It was wrong. Now who cares is the question.
He did just what all the un-contradicted testimony has established, what we knew going in, witness after witness saying exactly the same thing. It doesn’t matter who the whistleblower is, but the Republicans keep demanding his identity be made public [imagine the danger that would pose for the man and his family, much less the deterrent it would put on future truth telling] because multiple witnesses have now confirmed his account, and because there is un-contradicted testimony as to how Trump confirmed his plans for the quid pro quo with the ambassador to the European Union. No contradictions. You don’t need a nine-month investigation, which is another Republican straw man. Exactly what will they investigate? What if President Donald Trump abused his power for personal gain with other countries? Irrelevant, they would claim. It’s just absurd. There are no disputed facts: If Ukraine wanted the aid it desperately needed, it would have had to investigate Joe Biden and his son to get it. No ifs, ands or buts.
And, of course, that was wrong. Even Trump’s defenders don’t argue otherwise: They try to minimize it [Trump did release the aid but only after notice of the whistleblower campaign] or dismiss it [no harm no foul when it’s only attempted treason]. Mostly they focus on process, rather than innocence, because there is no straight-face argument that would exonerate the president. The only person in the world who still thinks it is perfectly OK to condition desperately needed foreign aid on doing him a political favor is the president himself, who tweeted on Monday that he “did nothing wrong” and didn’t even try to explain how that could be.
So who cares?
Republican House members have already made clear they intend to vote on strictly partisan lines, not because they believe the president acted properly but because they will be on the ballot with him next year, and because Donald Trump is a very vengeful man whose partisan approach to his presidential powers is hardly limited to playing favorites with foreign aid. They need the safest district and the thickest skin to step up against Trump. They’ll be the ones Sean Hannity accuses of treason. And they call themselves leaders. Absurd. Sheep is more like it.
The Democratic House members have a different problem. It is not at all clear that a long Senate trial would help the Democrats. It would not only sideline the senators who are running but also possibly task public patience. The same witnesses. The same testimony. The Republicans’ best dodge may be to argue that, with an election coming, it is only right that the people pick their president. And the president will do what he does best: deny, deny, deny.
To state the obvious, it is clear that people do care. But how much? Enough to break the partisan stranglehold on Congress? Probably not. The president will be impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate. The final verdict will be delivered by the voters. Trump’s partisan manipulation of foreign policy for his own benefit adds to a long list of instances where he has desecrated the office he holds and simply denied what was absolutely true. Whether it will ultimately cost him the presidency will likely depend more on who the Democrats offer as an alternative than how many more items get added to the list.