Things are moving fast. Finally. Unfortunately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement of a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump has not come quite in time to save our country from the pain and chaos this flawed man already has wrought.
But better late than never. And, frankly, even if Senate Republicans can't find it within their partisan souls to convict and vote out a man who at least twice has enlisted foreign help to his own petty ends and to gain unfair advantage in elections — not to mention his other egregious and greedy actions — our country will still be better off for what we learn in the process.
For starters, this impeachment effort will show us more about why we should never have trusted Trump and his parade of grifters.
What's more, with the Senate's eventual vote, we'll learn the true mettle — or faint hearts — of our Republican lawmakers.
How, with any measure of self respect or patriotic concern for representing America and those of us who sent them to office, can Sens. Lamar Alexander, Marsha Blackburn, Johnny Isakson, David Perdue and Richard Shelby give a pass to a man who saw nothing wrong with extorting a foreign country for dirty election tricks? How can they be OK with a man who defied their congressional vote to give nearly $400 million in aid to a country fighting the Russian wolf at its door? How can they look the other way while Trump asks the new Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden and his son. Hello, folks, isn't that what our own FBI is for?
And can our senators, with a straight face, still give Trump a pass with the memory of him imploring on national TV, "Russia, if your listening " Perhaps they should finally read the Mueller report which, though it pulled punches thanks to misguided Justice Department policies, still laid bare Trump's complete immorality and lack of ethical judgment.
For heaven's sake, this president's unfitness for office was made plain just watching him, day after day, as he rolled back common-sense clean air and clean water rules or ordered more immigrant children be taken from their parents and locked in cages with no viable way to reunite the families later. But it took blatant corruption in plain sight to get us where we are today — the real start of a formal impeachment inquiry.
Last month, a whistle-blower in the White House working for the intelligence community filed a complaint about the president's abuse of power. Though Trump never mentioned the Congress-appropriated money in a phone call with Ukraine's leader, he had previously ordered acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to put a freeze on it. When the Ukrainian referred to a desire for more military equipment, Trump responded with a counter desire.
"I would like you to do us a favor though ," Trump said to the Ukrainian, according to both the whistle-blower and a State Department reconstructed summary transcript of the call. Trump went on to ask that Ukrainians investigate the company Biden's son worked for and Joe Biden's possible part in the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was previously looking into the company. Previous inquiries have found no Biden wrongdoing.
The whistle-blower alerted the inspector general of the intelligence community, and his or her complaint — which is broader than just that one call — so alarmed the inspector general that he labeled it a matter of "urgent concern."
With much controversy, the complaint was finally released Thursday, and in it we also learned that White House aides, alarmed that they had witnessed the president "abuse his office for personal gain" rushed to "lock down" the record of the call, removing it from the usual electronic file and hiding it away in a separate system normally used for classified information. The White House on Friday confirmed the transfer.
Is this like the Watergate cover-up? Yes. Then-President Richard Nixon was seeking an election advantage with the burglary of the Democratic National Headquarters to find a donors' list. And then he, along with aides, sought to cover it up once it came to light. It took awhile, but Congress and the public eventually turned on Nixon for betraying our public trust.
Now the worm may be turning on Trump, too. In the aftermath of the whistle-blower saga, many who were previously unconvinced that impeachment was the right path have changed their minds. Now a majority of the House of Representatives' 435 members favor it, according to a Thursday NBC News tally.
Of course the Republican-majority Senate, which will have to convict the president if the House eventually delivers articles of impeachment, is a different animal. Senate leadership has said that body will never vote to convict Trump.
But the Senate isn't the only judge. Don't count out American voters, and public opinion is moving, too.
After the inquiry was announced but before the whistle-blower's letter was released, an NPR/PBS/Marist poll showed that 49% of respondents approve of the impeachment inquiry, a jump from 37% just days before in a Quinnipiac survey.
If the House conducts a thorough and public impeachment probe, the findings will inform our 2020 choice. And if Senate Republicans stonewall accountability for a clearly corrupt president who not once, but twice, sought deliberate interference with free and fair elections, we should show them the door, too.