According to Republicans for the Rule of Law chief executive Sarah Longwell, the ad was covered by a slew of mainstream and conservative media outlets.
Then came a single, devastating tweet from Bill Kristol, director of Defending Democracy Together (of which RRL is a project) reminding us of what Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) used to sound like on impeachment, back when he was explaining why President Bill Clinton’s failure to cooperate with an impeachment inquiry was itself impeachable:
RRL certainly is in tune with the broader electorate, which has moved decisively in favor of impeachment. (I might suggest the group next target Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who cannot muster the courage to say enlisting a foreign government to interfere with our elections is wrong.)
The Morning Consult/Politico poll finds that “50 percent of registered voters surveyed would support the Senate’s removing Trump from office, while 43 percent oppose the president’s removal.”
In the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll reports that "47 percent of Americans believe the allegations that Trump requested Ukraine’s president to look into the Bidens are either ‘quite serious’ or ‘extremely serious.’ That includes 73 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of independents and even 21 percent of Republicans.” In the same survey, a clear majority, 53 percent, think he has not been honesty and trustworthy about Ukraine; only 38 percent believe he has been.
Even more worrisome to Trump, his favorite news outlet, Fox News, released its poll on Wednesday, finding: “A new high of 51 percent wants Trump impeached and removed from office, another 4 percent want him impeached but not removed, and 40 percent oppose impeachment altogether. In July, 42 percent favored impeachment and removal, while 5 percent said impeach but don’t remove him, and 45 percent opposed impeachment.”
From all of this, one can draw a few conclusions. We should, of course, keep in mind that events are moving quickly, but uniformly in a direction unfavorable to the president.
First, the name-calling and misinformation coming from the White House and dutifully parroted by sycophantic right-wing outlets and individual commentators is wholly ineffective. The only people they convince are those Republicans who can be convinced of anything. Remarkably, a small but perceptible share of Republicans have had enough of Trump’s act and see real impeachable conduct at issue.
Second, Trump’s defiance of Congress’s power to investigate impeachable conduct seems to have convinced no one and has rattled his Republican allies in Congress. The Post reports, “The broad legal effort escalated on Tuesday when the White House counsel sent a letter to House Democratic leaders dismissing Congress’s impeachment inquiry as ‘illegitimate’ and stating that the entire executive branch would refuse to cooperate with it.” Legal experts sneered at the letter from White House counsel Pat Cipollone. (“Several legal scholars panned Cipollone’s letter as a political document with little legal relevance. . . . Ilya Somin, a professor at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, joked in a Facebook post that the Trump administration’s legal reasoning made him wonder ‘whether the White House counsel was sick the day they taught law at law school.’”)
At the same time, Trump’s outrageous claims in court of absolute immunity, including the claim that Watergate-era precedent was wrongly decided, threatens to elicit a strong rebuke from the courts.
Finally, the president’s move to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, triggering the expected onslaught from Turkish forces, as well as his ignorant and cavalier response (“noting that ‘they didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us in Normandy’ and were only interested in fighting for ‘their land’”), has generated a rare moment of dissension in GOP ranks. The reaction underscores the question for Republicans: Why exactly are they defending such a manifestly unfit president whose policies enrage them? The answer is political cowardice. Voters will have a chance to render a verdict on their fitness for office as well.