After months dragging their feet over whether to impeach President Trump over his campaign deal with Russia, the House Democrats are racing to get impeached over his deal with Ukraine.
With Trump promising to issue a transcript of his call with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on Wednesday and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announcing he will hear from the whistle this week, we'll learn a lot more about Trump's words and actions, then we know now. But no matter what the subsequent information reveals, it is clear that the internal impeachment policy has changed for the Democrats.
Coming into 201
Can it keep the Liberals away? Would impeachment threaten Democrats in swinging counties? Would Trump's defense against punishment be a difficult vote for Senate Republicans in tight contests?
In the early months of the new majority and following the Robert Mueller report, Pelosi made it clear that the political risks of impeachment were too high in terms of rewards.
Even with liberals convinced that Mueller's report provides a roadmap for impeachment, failing to establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, or explicitly saying that Trump obstructs justice, Mueller's report is too unconvincing to change politics. That is, Republicans in the race seats had nothing to fear by opposing impeachment, while Democrats in Trump's friendly districts had reason to fear a final doomed impeachment effort.
But history with Ukraine has clearly changed this dynamic. First, it made the liberals much more furious about Pelosi's unwillingness to impeach and made it more difficult to explain his inaction. Second, it has given Democrats a question that is much easier to explain than history with confused Russia. In this case, the direct accusation is that Trump tried to pressure a foreign government to investigate a political rival while delaying foreign aid to the country. This makes it easier for House Democrats in the border districts to explain the vote for impeachment and make them more convinced that a Trump vote will be harder to protect Republicans in blue and purple states.
Of course, there is still a risk here. We have not seen any impeachment surveys reflecting the latest findings in Ukraine. It is possible that the public is as opposed to the idea now as it was before. And most importantly, the follow-up information will prove that the story is less harmful to Trump than the original reporting seems. But at this point, the risks to Pelosi from demoralizing the base by doing nothing, on balance, were clearly greater than continuing to move forward in impeachment.