The question is no longer whether. It’s when. If still in office after impeachment (more of that infra) the Senate will acquit.

There are enough votes in the House to pass an impeachment resolution.

The Democrats’ plan is to have one article: Trump’s behavior in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. Using one article instead of several articles (e.g. violation of the emoluments clause; obstruction of justice, etc.) makes Trump’s behavior easy to understand and limits his opposition because the facts are not in dispute, just their import (impeachable or a “beautiful conversation”).

The House will have hearings in the short term because it is mete and fit to do so in view of the gravity of impeachment but they are unnecessary to fuel the House majority’s decision to impeach.

Speaker Pelosi’s announcement of an official impeachment inquiry is a nullity because it changes nothing: the six (count ’em) committees will continue their respective investigations, under the supervision of Rep. Adam Schiff, Chair of the Intelligence Committee. Significantly, she did not appoint a special committee which would have been something.

The Speaker’s announcement does express her determination that her conference wants to impeach.

How did we get here and what are the political ramifications for the 2020 election?


Since Trump’s election, he has had almost universal opposition from the Democrats fueled by his substantive policies at home and abroad and by his governing style of persistent grandiosity, insult, lying, disrespect, contumaciousness (especially to the two other co-equal branches of government and the international order in all its manifestations) and general snottiness.

The mutual dislike between Trump and the Democrats is ostensibly joined by Republicans who don’t like Trump either but fear his Twitterization of them that could lead to expensive primaries.

But no amount of loathing can justify impeachment, the actual undoing of Trump’s 2016 election. The ill-fated Russian investigation produced the comprehensive but tepid Mueller Report and its false characterization by Attorney General Barr, followed by the embarrassing appearance by Mr. Mueller before Congress. (It didn’t work.)

The Mueller Report, assisted by the intelligence community, did make it clear that Russia was active in seeking to steer the 2016 election to Trump, thus sensitizing the public to the fact that foreign state actors are not supposed to get involved in American elections.

Enter Ukraine.

After the Ukrainian revolution of 2014, its President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia in February 2014 .

Russia formally annexed Crimea –taken by force–on March 18, 2014.  Russia was then suspended from the Group of 8 and placed under international sanctions by the EU, the United States and many international organizations.

Russia responded by imposing its own sanctions and sending masked units, posing as Ukrainian “freedom” fighters, to invade eastern Ukraine.

Petro Poroshenko was elected President of Ukraine in 2014 and was defeated this year by Volodymyr Zelensky, a television  actor without political experience.

Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son,  went on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company in 2014. The company had ties to then President Yanukovych.

In 2015, Viktor Shokin became the prosecutor general of Ukraine, charged with stopping corruption. All the donor nations and organizations then helping Ukraine unanimously demanded that he be dismissed for corruption and incompetence leading to his dismissal in 2016 by the Ukrainian parliament. His deputy has confirmed that any investigation into Burisma got nowhere and was dormant.

The two relevant documents.

The Trump administration has heretofore refused to honor congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony, citing a nonexistent notion of executive privilege that would enable the White House to refuse to give Congress anything, any time, anywhere.

Not so here. In quick order, the White House released a “transcript” or readout of Trump’s July 25  Zelensky call and a whistleblower complaint regarding the call that are now the basis for an article of impeachment.

The call that Trump calls “beautiful” is called extortionate by Democrats because Trump asks Zelensky to investigate the Bidens while a delayed weapons grant of $ 391 million was pending and when Joe Biden is his prospective 2020 opponent.

There is no need to characterize the two documents as they are widely available online. One point: In the call’s readout Trump calls the widely reviled former Ukrainian prosecutor general Shokin  a “very good” and “very fair” man. A  Zelensky chuckle is not recorded.

Political ramifications.

We don’t really know. Anything can happen .

  1. Biden. He is damaged by this. In my opinion, in the near term, his poll numbers will descend. As right as it was, he should not have criticized Shokin and demanded his highly justified ouster–the demand of all donor nations and organizations– at a time when his son was working in Ukraine for a company that might have been charged with improprieties even though it never was and did nothing improper.
  2. Warren. Her stock (and poll numbers) will go up. It is not unlikely that she will be the Democratic nominee.
  3. Trump. The White House does not have a playbook to oppose a one-article impeachment because the facts are not in dispute, only their interpretation. Its Mueller playbook is inapposite because it was designed to deny disputed facts.


White House staff is in jeopardy in this impeachment. Staff     members face steep legal fees in an atmosphere where stonewalling will not work. Will any defect?

What about Republicans in the House and Senate? I thought that many Republicans sounded quite mild during the Intelligence Committee’s hearing with Acting DNI Maguire. (Not so the foreseeable opening statement anger of Rep. Nunes as likely scripted by the White House.) Will any defect?

As the impeachment certainty sinks in, Trump may very well resign to be pardoned (along with his family) by President Pence.

Does Pence become the Republican nominee in 2020? Not so fast.