|DAVID NAKAMURA / THE WASHINGTON POST|
It has been two months since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Democrats were initiating impeachment proceedings against President Trump. It has been a week since the proceedings shifted into overdrive with public hearings. And while you will vehemently disagree if you are trapped in the Fox News echo chamber or rely on Breitbart to reassure you that the earth is flat, the big takeaways are that not only has the public backlash nervous Democrats feared not occurred, but support for impeachment is growing.
While the hearings are being spoofed as a sort of Jetsons Meet the Flintstones for the Resistance and MAGA crowds by lazy pundits, I happen to believe that more and more people are realizing their country has been taken from them by the monster in the White House and they want it back, dammit.
The searing indictment of the monster that House Democrats are presenting through the anguished testimony of nonpartisan career diplomats and others disobeying Trump's orders to not cooperate in their Ukraine scandal probe is helped considerably by the Republican inability to defend the indefensible while never once invoking the Constitution they took an oath to obey.
Charles Pierce, in noting that Trump is now running from not just the law but the Founders and that Constitution, as well, offers these timely words of wisdom at Esquire:The reluctance of the political order to accept impeachment as a viable part of the Constitution largely felt as though the danger was not to the executive branch, but to the comfortable illusions that Americans had developed over the years regarding their form of government. One of the great conundrums in the American political mind is that a prideful boasting about the Constitution is always accompanied by mournful concern for its fragility. Don't let the Constitution run at full ops or it will break down and there will be gears and wires all over the highway.
It is positively comical to watch the president and his advocates seek to wrap themselves in these old illusions. They are the subtext of the entire defense because, on the facts of the case, the president is dead-bang impeachable.The president, grimly familiar as we have become with his narcissistic self-pitying, vulgar tweetstorms, rampant self-dealing and corruption and never ending torrent of lies, is of course the biggest enemy of the flailing Republican efforts to keep his dam from bursting.
As it is, the drip-drip-drip from the dam is increasing as impeachment proceedings accelerate and referenda on Trump in off-off year elections in Pennsylvania, Virginia and now deep-red Louisiana send the message that he cannot win a second term in an honestly contested election.
In an impeachment highlight reel moment, sacked Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovich told rapt investigators on Friday that she received the first ominous phone call about her ouster while honoring Ukrainian anti-corruption activist Kateryna Handzyuk. Republicans, who sensed that they needed to treat Yovanovich with kid gloves, alternately sat on their hands or praised her for all her difficult assignments in global hotspots as she described the Trump-fueled "smear campaign" that effectively ended her distinguished 30-year career.
(Handzyuk died on November 4 after enduring 11 operations from the burns caused by the sulphuric acid an angry attacker threw on her. She had continued to fight corruption from her hospital bed.)
But Trump, who claimed he wasn't watching the hearings, was unable to keep it zipped and lashed out as Yovanovich was testifying, tweeting that she was a bad actor. Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff stopped the proceedings, read the tweet aloud and hinted that witness intimidation, long a Trump weapon of choice, might be added to the articles of impeachment to be drawn up against him, presumably abuse of power and contempt of Congress, for openers.
As only the fourth impeachment inquiry in American history plays out, the next act in the drama may well star the perjurious Gordon Sondland, who is one of eight administration officials scheduled to testify this week.
Sondland helped Trump smear diplomats like William Taylor, George Kent and Yovanovich in establishing a shadow State Department to bribe Ukraine and boost his chances in the 2020 election by getting the president of the nascent democracy to smear Joe Biden and son and back the right-wing claim that Ukraine and not Russia hacked Democratic emails in 2016.
Sondland, as we now know, called Trump on an unsecured phone from a busy Kiev restaurant the day after the president's infamous shakedown call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and told him Zelensky was ready to move forward with "the investigations." (Wink wink, nod nod). After Sondland hung up, a staff member asked him what Trump had to say about Ukraine, to which Sondland replied, "Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden."
Sondland bought an ambassadorship for a $1 million donation to Trump's inaugural events, and now must decide between loyalty to the Chosen One or joining other insiders like Paul Manafort, and Michael Cohen, who are in prison, and now Roger Stone, who is headed there.
It may take a while, but my guess is that Gordy will crack, the Founders will smile, the Constitution will survive and Trump will slouch ever closer to the end of his reign.