One nagging thought (well, one of several) persists as House Democrats move to draft articles of impeachment.
I know Pelosi, Nadler et al. have many good reasons to limit their case to the aid extortion Trump et al. tried to work on Ukraine. This scheme does comprise the most egregious high crimes, with the most serious potential consequences, known to have been undertaken by and at the behest of this president. The Dems want to sustain momentum, keep the public’s attention, and avoid distracting from the primary rounds that begin next month. Past scandals didn’t move the all-important public opinion meter, so better to concentrate on one that might. And since they haven’t a prayer of turning enough Republican senators to get a conviction, the best they can do is establish a record (as Schiff ably did).
But is it wise to put the whole case in this one basket? This scandal seems to have moved that meter only marginally. Trump’s earlier potential crimes and misdemeanors, if less serious, may be easier to understand. Together they establish a modus and motive that support the Ukrainegate case.
The witnesses taking the stand earlier, and committee chair Nadler himself, showed this when they recalled how candidate Trump publicly urged Russia to hack the Democratic National Committee’s emails. What hasn’t been recalled, and was too little noted at the time, was that the only change in the 2016 Republican platform that team Trump demanded was weakening its expression of support for Ukraine against Russian aggression.
Indulge in reverie for a moment and imagine how the hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen MacDougal would sit against a Ukrainegate bribery count. That’s only reverie, of course; even if it had time, this House wouldn’t want to follow the stained-blue-dress precedent and convene hearings on anything so petty and seamy. But it already has a record of multiple past instances of obstruction of justice, complete with convicted henchmen, in the form of the Mueller Report and James Comey’s congressional testimony. The fact that Mueller’s own appearance fell flat doesn’t gainsay the strength of the record his team established.
If you’re going to charge Trump’s latest obstruction of justice, why not charge his past obstructions? If you’re going to call him corrupt, why not include counts for taking foreign emoluments and for self-enrichment by steering federal business to his hotels and resorts?
Republicans would howl that the Democrats are getting desperate and flinging whatever they can find. But if the Dems limit their case the Rs will still call them desperate and holler that all three years of witchhunting could turn up is this so-called Ukrainian nothingburger.
The public, the real arbiter, deserves a refresher course in this president’s outrages. The sum is greater than one of its parts.