In the end, impeachment is political, not legal, and the House G.O.P. probably won’t impeach for anything short of a transcript of a call between Trump and Putin in which the words “yes, I want you to hack their servers big-league, Vladimir” appear in black-and-white. And even then ….
Douthat is right -- it's highly unlikely that a Republican House would vote to impeach even then, out of fear of the GOP voter base. We know from the polls that Republicans don't think the Trump-Russia story is a big deal, the latest evidence being a Vox/Survey Monkey poll:
Before the latest revelations surfaced Tuesday regarding Donald Trump Jr.’s emails about his meeting with a Russian lawyer, 50 percent of Americans said the Russia allegations swirling around the Trump administration represented a “serious issue” that should be investigated.
Slightly fewer Americans, 46 percent, called the issue a “distraction” — and the split fell heavily along party lines.
... 83 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said the allegations were more of a distraction, while 83 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners called it a serious issue.
The question that hasn't been polled, as far as I know, is: Do you approve or disapprove of the hackings of the Democrats? I think it's generally assumed that even Republicans would say that the hacks were wrong, though perhaps not terribly wrong. I disagree. I think a significant percentage of Republicans -- possibly a majority -- would say that the hacks were a public service, an exposure of some of America's worst criminals and history's greatest monsters. Maybe Republicans wouldn't say this in a live-interviewer poll, but certainly in a robo-poll they would. And I don't know that there'd even be a significant discrepancy based on whether the GOP respondents had to acknowledge their beliefs to a live human being.
Eventually I think we're going to be faced with incontrovertible evidence that the Trump team colluded with the Russians on criminal acts -- except that Trump will still be at 38% approval in the Gallup poll and his fan base still won't regard the incontrovertible evidence as evidence of a crime.
To test my thesis, would some firm please ask that basic question -- do you think the hacks were a crime, or do you think they were a good thing for the country?
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog