At the very moment that the US Congress was voting to impeach him, Donald Trump was having the time of his life haranguing the crowd at Michigan campaign rally. He denounced Congress, ridiculed or demonized his Democratic rivals, boasted of his 'many victories,' and appeared to feed off of the energy of his cheering fans. Even with his complaints about what he called a 'hoax,' 'scam,' and 'witch hunt,' what came through was that he was exactly where he wanted to be. I am convinced that Donald Trump wanted the Democrats to impeach him.
Ever since his 2017 inauguration, he has appeared to be taunting Democrats to take this very step. I'm not speaking about his shockingly controversial Executive Orders or his profanity-rich and vulgarity-laden rants, neither of which constituted impeachable offences. These were designed to excite and incite his supporters and to provoke his opponents. More to the point of impeachment, Trump repeatedly pushed the envelope with far more serious behaviours. He has, for example, repeatedly violated the emolument clause of the Constitution; fired or threatened to fire individuals who were investigating him or his associates; flaunted his controversial and questionable relationship with the Russians, and refused Congressional requests and subpoenas for documents or testimony.
From the moment Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in 2018, they were under pressure to act against Trump's unacceptable actions. The party's leadership, however, was hesitant to take the bait. A whistle-blower's complaint alleging that the president had used the authority of his office and pending US military aid to pressure the Ukrainian government to launch an investigation into possible corruption by the son of one of Trump's potential 2020 Democratic challengers, former Vice-President Joe Biden, finally pushed the Democrats to act.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership were not inclined to take the matter directly to impeachment, for several reasons. They wanted Democrats to focus on building a legislative record and not allow themselves to be distracted by the sideshow emanating from the White House. Democrats also didn't want to give Trump a new grievance with which to rally his troops. And finally, Democrats knew that the Republican-led Senate would never vote to remove an impeached Trump from office, making the entire enterprise an exercise in futility. Initially, therefore, the Democrats...