The genius of Donald Trump—or maybe just the effect of his incredible self-absorption, I’m not sure—is that he just won’t shut up. He talks and prattles and chirps and rants and rages and scolds and belittles and Tweets and goes on and on and on, perhaps not as smoothly as he once did but still at a rate that’s frustratingly hard to keep up with, because so much of it is just plain nonsense. Since he took office as president, journalists have compiled the lists of his lies into the many thousands, but there’s so damn much that it’s hard to remember it all, hard to keep straight in your head all the outrageous and patently false, and dangerous, and self-serving things he has said.
That’s where the impeachment process finds itself this week as it enters a new phase—the beginning of public testimony before House committees—which I believe will accelerate the American public’s growing realization and understanding that Donald Trump is not fit to hold office, and that he deserves to be tried in the United States Senate and removed from office.
The evidence of impeachable acts and lack of proper temperament for this job has been out there all along, like a scattering of bread crumbs, leading to an inescapable conclusion for those who are willing to honestly review the evidence. A whistleblower complaint in September led us all to the now-famous July phone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine that kick-started the impeachment process in the House of Representatives, which has turned up a growing number of people within the government who have given depositions with information supporting the accusations against the president. That includes information supplied by the White House itself, albeit as it feigns innocence and asks, incredulously, what’s so wrong with that? The polls indicate the start of a swing in public opinion in favor of investigation, and impeachment, and a Senate trial.
But now we won’t have to read the transcripts of depositions. With televised public testimony from witnesses, we will all be able to see and hear the stories of what happened, and judge their credibility, for ourselves. (We will also be able to judge the credibility of the House questioners; I hope they get that.) I expect the volume of testimony, coming from people who joined Trump’s government out of patriotism and the desire to part of an effort they supported, and who have no ax to grind and no reason to lie, will persuade many of those who are leaning against Trump, but have been thinking this was all being blown out of proportion by his political rivals and should just go away, to understand that this is all real and must be addressed.
We have all been in their position at one time or another in our lives. We have all supported a candidate or an officeholder, a coworker or a business associate, a family member or a friend, who turns out not to have lived up to their promises or our expectations; who has lied to or stolen from us; who has disappointed us in some unimaginable way. It can be hard to admit to ourselves that we made a mistake, that we were taken advantage of, that our trust was abused. It can look like we’re fighting like hell to give that person the benefit of the doubt, when we’re really fighting to keep from admitting that we got played. It’s a natural feeling, and I empathize with those who are fighting the feeling right now. Listening to the testimony changed minds when Congress did an impeachment investigation of Richard Nixon, and I bet the same will happen here.
On a related note, for those who couldn’t push through a reading of the Mueller Report and thus aren’t armed with an understanding of its real findings, may I suggest you listen to the Lawfare podcast The Report. In fifteen episodes it lays out the allegations in the Mueller Report in a way that helps people get it; if you want to just lay still and let the investigated truth wash over you, take a listen.