Thursday, October 24, 2019


Lead sentence of a Washington Post story about the impeachment process:
House Democrats are preparing to move their largely private impeachment inquiry onto a more public stage as soon as mid-November and are already grappling with how best to present the complex Ukraine saga to the American people.
Oh, great -- now it's a "complex saga"? I mean, obviously it is -- but we were assured that Ukraine was an ideal subject for impeachment because it was straightforward and easy for ordinary Americans to understand. Well, so much for that.

On the other hand, a new Quinnipiac poll shows support for the impeachment inquiry increasing to 55%, so maybe complexity was never the problem. (I'm not sure most poll respondents who support impeachment do so based on any specific allegation -- many of them, I think, are just sick of Trump and want him to go away.)

If Democrats wanted a charge that was easy to explain, they should have gone for impeachment on emoluments. Foreigners give Trump money, foreigners get favorable treatment, in violation of the Constitution -- what could be easier to understand? Even without the G-7 at the Trump Doral, it's an open-and-shut case. (The Constitution says you can't take money from foreign governments, not that you can take the money if it doesn't quite turn your failing business into a success.)

Granted, Ukrainegate seems more sinister than emoluments. But its increasing complexity, which doesn't seem to be accompanied by a decrease in support for impeachment, reinforces my belief that Democrats, if they'd played their cards right, could have impeached on Russia. They would have needed to respond almost immediately to the release of the Mueller report with the line of argument they only gradually developed: that the report is packed with evidence of obstruction of justice, that Robert Mueller was either too rule-bound or too cowardly to throw the book at the president, and that the William Barr summary of the report was a reprehensible act of misdirection. I still think the tide could have been turned on that, if those messages had gone out within a day or two of the report's release. But we are where we are, with a different story that's nearly as complicated, and with the public ready for an impeachment.

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