Trump Is Blowing His Defense Against Impeachment
Published in The Washington Post
on October 23, 2019
President Trump probably will not be removed from office as long as he keeps the support of his base. But he’s blowing his counter-impeachment strategy, bigly.
Trump’s approach has been straight out of his normal playbook. He’s tried to whitewash his conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as cordial and normal. He’s attacked the Democratic-led investigation as a witch hunt and a partisan maneuver. He’s lashed out at his critics, such as Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), in personal and mean tweets. In sum, he’s portrayed himself as the innocent victim of a phony crisis led by vengeful losers.
This tack shows how badly he misunderstands his predicament. He needs to do more than rally a base predisposed to back their embattled leader. He needs to persuade a small but crucial share of the electorate who frequently disapproves of him but had hitherto opposed impeachment. That group’s support is crucial to his reelection and to keeping wavering Republicans on board. His current strategy is the polar opposite of what those voters want.
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Henry Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.