On Tuesday, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman laid out for House Democrats the four main things that they must impress upon the American people to ensure their impeachment efforts against President Donald Trump capture strong and lasting public support.
"There is still a civic pulse in this country," wrote Friedman, recounting how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received uproarious bipartisan applause at the Kennedy Center recently. "Some Americans still support President Trump, but far, far more are exhausted and disgusted by him. And that is why his latest outrage is so dangerous to him. He knows that we know that many Republicans know that he committed an impeachable offense. And it’s all out there now: a whistle-blower complaint filed by a C.I.A. officer detailing how Trump dangled military assistance in front of the president of Ukraine if he would do Trump a “favor” and investigate bogus corruption charges against Joe Biden."
First, Friedman wrote, Democrats must emphasize that the whistleblower is a nonpartisan civil servant. "If this turns out to be what it appears — a nonpolitical C.I.A. analyst and other civil servants motivated by their oath to uphold the Constitution in the face of a president who was violating his oath — then Trump and the Republicans will have a problem."
Second, former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Masha Yovanovich will be testifying as well — and her credentials and credibility must be bolstered. "Again, how eager will Republicans be to defend Giuliani and Trump by trashing a U.S. ambassador — with a stellar record — who was trying to prevent foreign interference in our elections?"
"Third, unlike the Mueller investigation, this case is very easy for people to understand," wrote Friedman. "Trump called the new Ukrainian president, who was desperate for U.S. military aid to use against Russian aggression, and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: guns for Biden."
"Finally, I have no doubt that Trump’s base will stick by him. But they are not the important constituency today, because Trump needs more than his base to get re-elected," wrote Friedman. "He needs the moderate Republicans, independents and suburban women who came his way in 2016 — but then abandoned him in 2018, enabling the Democrats to retake the House. What will they do in 2020?"
"Democrats should pursue impeachment in the House as if there were no election in 2020. And they should pursue the 2020 election as if there were no impeachment," concluded Friedman. "And they should do it by letting the nonpolitical whistle-blower and the other civil servants take the lead. These humble patriots started this, and it will go only as far as their credibility sustains it. And it’s their credibility that will influence the swing voters that brought Democrats the House in 2018 — those independents, moderate Republicans and suburban women — a few of whom, I suspect, were at the Kennedy Center last Saturday night, giving a standing ovation to Justice Ginsburg."