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It would be unfair to prejudge the impeachment case against Donald Trump. But let's do so anyway.
When Richard Nixon faced impeachment in 1974, he was charged with abuse of power, obstruction of justice and contempt of Congress. Given the evidence against him, Nixon resigned rather than risk being thrown out of office.
It's unlikely that Trump will quit voluntarily. He believes the Republican-controlled Senate will save him. But the impeachment process is accelerating amid an impressive accumulation of incriminating testimony. The Democrat-led House of Representatives voted to formalise proceedings last week. As matters stand, Trump will probably face similar charges to Nixon.
The main point is not so much whether Trump is guilty of wrongdoing - he almost certainly is - or whether Congress will ultimately fail to convict him. It's whether his reputation is so damaged by the impeachment spectacle as to preclude his re-election next year.
Right now, only 43% of Americans approve of the job he is doing. Weeks of public hearings could further depress that figure.
To maximise the chances of condemning Trump in the court of public opinion, Democrats need to expand the formal and informal charge sheet beyond its current focus on the Ukraine scandal. The constitution helps. By failing to define exactly what it meant by impeachable ``high crimes and misdemeanours'', it left scope for a wide array of accusations.
In other words, all of Trump's offences against his presidential oath, the law and the American people should be taken into account. Even if the impeachment process eventually hits a dead end, the public and media debate surrounding it provides a unique platform from which to shine a harsh light on Trump's multiple misdeeds.
Trump has already denounced the whole business as a politically inspired witch-hunt. He will continue to try to delegitimise the proceedings in the public arena. So now is not the time to hold back, or play by the rules he denigrates and flaunts. It's time to throw the kitchen sink at Trump, and the cutlery, too.
From the evidence gathered so far, it appears indisputable that Trump abused his powers by trying to induce Ukraine's leaders to smear a political rival, Joe Biden. According to his own officials, his withholding of military aid to Kiev for this same reason harmed US national security.
If this attempted conspiracy with a foreign power sounds familiar, it is. Trump's repeated willingness to collaborate with Russia and kow-tow to its president, Vladimir Putin, evidenced most recently by his withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria, has raised numerous red flags during the past three years.
Although he did not directly accuse Trump of collusion, special counsel Robert Mueller, whose report this year confirmed that covert Russian meddling in the 2016 election helped the Trump campaign, did not exonerate him, either.
Since the Russians are reportedly planning similar interference in 2020, and Trump has done little to stop it, the collusion drum is one the Democrats should be beating hard.
The fact that Trump and his businesses are the subject of several federal and state corruption investigations is also relevant to his impeachment. Questions swirl around generous Russian loans, made through German banks, which reportedly rescued his business empire from bankruptcy. Another probe concerns Middle Eastern donations to his 2017 inauguration committee.
By refusing to co-operate with the impeachment hearings, and blocking and intimidating witnesses, Trump is meanwhile increasing the chances that a charge of obstruction of justice will be added to abuse of power. Here, too, past behaviour patterns are germane. The Mueller report cited no fewer than 10 instances of alleged obstruction, including Trump's sacking of the FBI director, James Comey.
Trump's contempt for the workings of US democracy is on show almost every day, whether it's his attempts to direct federal money into his resorts, his disdain for the intelligence agencies and the state department, or his attacks on Congress, judges, the Federal Reserve and independent news media.
Should not his moral turpitude, his racially and religiously divisive rhetoric and policies, his barely disguised misogyny and, for example, his incarceration of asylum-seekers in camps on the Mexican border also be properly termed unacceptable abuses of power?
And if a measure of Trump's misrule is the threat it presents to US security, wellbeing and national interests, as in Ukraine, what of his subversive efforts to weaken Nato, empower Russia, pick trade fights, undermine European allies, ignore the climate crisis and undercut the global rules-based order by discarding treaties and scorning international law?
His self-interested attempts, for example, to curry favour with oil-rich Saudi autocrats, pander to Israel's hard right and goad their common enemy, Iran, into war represent a cynical, foolish threat to Middle East peace, a betrayal of American values and an egregious abuse of the powers entrusted to a president.
When articles of impeachment are drawn up by the House judiciary committee after Thanksgiving, these and other "high crimes and misdemeanours'' should be taken into consideration. They form the inescapable backdrop and context to the coming charges. They pose questions that Trump's Republican supporters must answer. They help expose the serial wrongdoing of a rogue president on whom the nation as a whole will soon pass judgement.
For Trump, the stakes could not be higher. If he survives and goes on to win next year, he will count it a huge personal vindication, justifying all the harm he has done. If he loses, with his immunity gone and indictments piling up, he could quite possibly end up in jail. - Guardian News and Media