Say it with me now: “First is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with the hairy chest.”
That parable — nursery rhyme? Schoolyard taunt? — could have surprising political implications this week, as news broke Sunday that there’s a second whistleblower ready to come forward with information about President Donald Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine.
The first, whose report was blocked for a significant amount of time before finally reaching Congress, has made ripples in Washington the likes of which we haven’t seen for decades. Quickly and decisively, an official impeachment inquiry was launched and polls gauging support for such an action saw a jump.
Now, the share of Americans who say Trump should be impeached from office sits at 24 percent; 31 percent of Americans support just an impeachment inquiry. That’s according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, that together shows 55 percent support for at least an impeachment inquiry.
In July, the number sat at 48 percent. That’s a big jump.
It may just be seven percentage points, but in the world of partisanship and echo chambers, it matters. It shows that support for impeachment is elastic, despite the fact that Trump’s approval rating has barely budged in two and a half years. And even that might be shifting — the same NBC News/WSJ poll found Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is down to 84 percent from 90 percent last month.
All this goes to show that Trump is not unbreakable. There are things that can change the minds of his supporters, and it looks like Ukraine is one of them.
And that’s why this second whistleblower matters.
We’re told that the second whistleblower has first-hand knowledge of Trump’s call with Ukraine. So far, the primary defense of conservatives and the Trump administration has been that the first whistleblower only had second-hand information of the call — I mean, he didn’t even hear it himself! — despite the fact that the transcript of the call released by the White House largely supports the complaint.
But if a second whistleblower comes forward with direct information on the call, that argument will no longer be valid. It will leave Republicans searching for another message to discredit the Democrats, and as we saw just a few weeks ago, the Republicans are not always the swiftest at figuring out their messaging.
Every day that Republicans are flailing is a day that the tide of voters flows in favor of an impeachment inquiry. And when 55 percent of Americans support an inquiry, it doesn’t take much until it becomes politically untenable for Republicans to oppose it.
Indeed, some Republicans have already come out and condemned Trump’s call with Ukraine, including Senators Susan Collins, Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse.
This second whistleblower complaint could end up being the tipping point in this impeachment inquiry. And even if it is just that — an inquiry — there’s only one way forward after the investigation: impeachment.
So, in the words of one parable, a second whistleblower could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Or in the words of another, it is the best — the best possible news for Democrats.
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