The question that will determine if Trump is removed from office

Was there any public purpose for Trump’s pressure on Ukraine?

President Trump.
(Image credit: Illustrated | SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images, rootstocks/iStock, Aerial3/iStock)

President Trump is running out of defenses. In the wake of the latest revelations, it's fairly obvious that what happened between him and the government of Ukraine is precisely what seemed to be happening when the scandal first broke. Trump used the leverage of American foreign policy — specifically withholding aid — to attempt to coerce the government of Ukraine into announcing and conducting an investigation into a campaign opponent. As that fact sinks in, it will require a shift in thinking on the part of Trump's many defenders.

In public, those defenders will surely continue to argue that the facts aren't all in, that there was no explicit quid pro quo, or that Trump wasn't personally involved in any decision regarding aid. But on an emotional level, these will no longer be plausible stances. In their heart of hearts, Republican voters, representatives and senators — the people who will decide whether Trump will be removed from office — will know the allegations are true. The remaining question is: Is what he did really so bad?

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Noah Millman

Noah Millman is a screenwriter and filmmaker, a political columnist and a critic. From 2012 through 2017 he was a senior editor and featured blogger at The American Conservative. His work has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Politico, USA Today, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, Foreign Policy, Modern Age, First Things, and the Jewish Review of Books, among other publications. Noah lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son.