We have now reached the public phase of the House impeachment investigation into the curious shenanigans of President Donald Trump regarding Ukraine. The allegation against Trump is that he, through his private attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and his ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, as well as through his own direct contacts, tried to pressure the president of Ukraine into ginning up a bogus investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, potentially Trump’s most worrisome opponent. Trump exerted leverage in this scheme by withholding millions of dollars of military aid appropriated by Congress to help Ukraine fight off a Russian invading force.
The facts of the impeachment case are hard to dispute because they come from highly respected officials within the Trump administration and from Trump’s own public statements. The president’s careless comments have repeatedly undermined those who have tried to mount a defense for him. Nevertheless, Republicans in Congress are choosing to ignore the mounting evidence. They have made one lame argument after another to undercut the impeachment process and have had to give ground with each new revelation, but it is doubtful they will give up.
Though the numbers favor impeachment in the House of Representatives, it is close to impossible to believe Trump will be turned out of office in a Senate trial. Trump may be the most amoral and incompetent president this country has ever seen, but he has effectively warped the GOP into a cult of personality that will not abandon him. Republican senators – with, perhaps, a handful of principled exceptions – will, in the end, excuse Trump’s corrupt use of American military aid as a bribe to further his own political interests. They will say it is no big deal; certainly nothing worthy of removing a president from office. What that really means is that they have no interest in putting their own political careers in jeopardy simply to save America from the self-serving con man in the White House.
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