One typical excuse made when a president gets into trouble is that there’s insufficient proof. That’s what President Richard Nixon’s defenders often resorted to, and it’s something Republicans tried out over the past week – noting that the whistle-blower in the Ukraine scandal had access only to secondhand evidence. That always seemed like a weak defense, especially once the White House published a summary of a call between Trump and the president of Ukraine that corroborated the whistle-blower’s account. …It’ll be hard to use that one at all, at least in good faith.
…Another classic defense is to question whether the president was personally involved. That’s how Republicans defended President Ronald Reagan during the Iran-Contra scandal, with some success. But it was never especially viable this time, and after Trump’s public performance on Thursday, it’s hopeless.
That leaves the defense that Democrats successfully used for Bill Clinton: that the president’s misconduct doesn’t merit impeachment. Unfortunately for Republicans, that one isn’t credible either. Not only does asking (or pressuring) foreign nations to interfere in U.S. elections obviously fit within traditional conceptions of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but there’s plenty of other evidence of Trump abusing his power, obstructing justice and more.