Republicans loyal to President Trump can find nothing wrong with whatever he does. The cultists will invent conspiracy theories, deny reality, play whataboutism and defend him with ad hominem attacks on critics before they would ever acknowledge he has done wrong. We have never expected them to finally see the light during the impeachment hearings, in part, because they largely process news through the filter of Fox News, which was akin to learning about the Kremlin in the Cold War by reading Pravda. What about the rest of America?

HuffPost reports on the latest HuffPost/YouGov poll, “The public is nearly evenly split on whether Trump should be removed from office, the survey found, with 45% saying he should and 42% that he should not. … Americans say, 42% to 31%, that they think Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in order to get the Ukrainian president to investigate the Biden family. Just 16% say doing so would be appropriate, with 26% calling it inappropriate but not impeachable, and 40% saying it’s an impeachable offense.” Though the numbers look static over the past week or so, drilling down to the people paying attention to the hearings gives you a different result:

People who’ve followed the hearings are more likely to say their view of the Trump administration worsened (30%) than improved (20%). That’s one thing that has shifted since last week, when those numbers were virtually even. The change is largely due to an increased consensus among Clinton voters that the hearings have worsened, rather than simply reaffirmed, their views of the Trump administration.
Those who followed the hearings say, 48% to 43%, that Democrats in Congress have been playing politics rather than making a good-faith effort to get to the truth. They say, 51% to 37%, that House Republicans are playing politics.

You cannot change your mind if you refuse to pay attention to new information.

The numbers suggest Democrats would do well to start working on the 26 percent of the respondents who say what he did was wrong but not impeachable and the 18 percent who are not sure. For that, three strategies would be helpful.

First, for those unfamiliar with the facts or uncertain about their meaning, Democrats (Mike Bloomberg perhaps?) need to start a campaign to inform and educate the public. In very basic terms, Trump used his office to withhold aid in exchange for the announcement of an investigation into a political opponent. One does not need to know all the witnesses’ names or recall what happened at the May 23 meeting as opposed to the July 10 meeting to grasp the essential narrative. In this, it is key to make clear there is no factual dispute as to what happened.

When talking to these voters or to voters who think the conduct was not impeachable, Democrats need to explain why this is a really, really big deal. Trump withheld aid from an ally staving off a common foe, Russia. In short, he was willing to imperil our national security to get political ammunition. In addition, just as he did with Russia, he invited, indeed extorted, a foreign power to influence our election. That is anti-democratic, un-American and a violation of his oath.

Finally, the evidence of obstruction of justice is overwhelming. He and his underlings are refusing to give documents and allow witness with incriminating evidence to testify. The system cannot work if Trump thwarts the impeachment process. Voters need a reminder that obstruction of Congress was the basis for the third article of impeachment during Watergate.

The Post reports that House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) announced that “investigators will transmit a report on Trump’s conduct in the Ukraine controversy to the Judiciary Committee shortly after Congress returns from Thanksgiving recess next week.” Underscoring the seriousness of the obstruction charge, “In a letter to colleagues, Schiff underscored that stonewalling by the White House could form the basis for a separate article of impeachment.”

Schiff also laid out the case in its simplest terms: “As the evidence conclusively shows, President Trump conditioned official acts — a White House meeting desperately desired by the new Ukrainian president and critical U.S. military assistance — on Ukraine announcing sham, politically-motivated investigations that would help President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.” That should be the beginning of a public education campaign designed to inform persuadable voters. Don’t expect the unpersuadable to be persuaded.

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