Few Democratic leaders have seemed less eager to impeach President Donald Trump than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She’s warned that the public doesn’t want it and the Senate would never go for it. But a rolling series of disclosures may force her to recalculate the politics. A report in The Wall Street Journal today, quickly confirmed by other major outlets, introduced an explosive new twist to a story that already had the trappings of one of the biggest threats yet to Trump’s presidency. The fresh details about Trump’s apparent effort to strong-arm Ukraine into investigating his political rival Joe Biden may have irreversibly pushed the president into the impeachment hot zone.
According to the Journal, in a phone call in July, Trump pressed Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Biden’s son Hunter. Over and over, Trump urged Zelensky to work in tandem with his lawyer and confidant Rudy Giuliani, who has publicly accused Joe Biden of trying to interfere in the investigation of a Ukrainian gas company, on whose board Hunter Biden sat. (A Ukrainian official said there was no wrongdoing, the Journal reported.)
Little Trump says has the power to shock anymore, but his alleged behavior in this instance is head-spinning. It suggests that whatever the fallout for America’s standing in the world, he is willing to use his office as a weapon to damage the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, the man he could well face in a 2020 general election. It shows that, at some fundamental level, he may not grasp his responsibilities as head of state and the innate patriotism the role requires. The nation’s interests and Trump’s immediate political needs are supposed to be separate. In his mind, they may seem one and the same.