You wanted House Democrats to do something about Donald Trump. Here we go.

“Why aren’t House Democrats doing anything about Donald Trump?” It’s a frequent refrain these days, and an understandable one. In reality, House Democrats have been making quite a few smart and aggressive moves in the name of dismantling Trump – it’s just that none of them have been of the shock and awe variety. Well, that starts to change today in a fairly big way.

Up to now, House Democrats have been fighting all the legal battles over evidence and testimony that they would still have to fight if they were calling their effort “impeachment.” Trump has managed to buy time in some ways, such as whatever shady means he used to convince the likes of Don McGahn and Annie Donaldson to throw their own lives away in the name of not testifying against him. The Democrats have scored big over Trump in other ways, such as quietly getting Wells Fargo and TD Bank to turn over Trump’s financial records, even as Trump was wasting his time in court trying to stop two other banks from turning over his records.

These battles are a crucial prerequisite to any serious action that House Democrats want to take against Donald Trump, whether it be impeachment or otherwise – but they haven’t been in front of the cameras, and thus haven’t had a big impact on public perception. That’s what makes today so important. Even as Trump continues to try to buy time before the courts inevitably order his former underlings to testify against him under penalty of arrest, the Democrats are trotting out Watergate figure John Dean to testify this afternoon about Trump’s criminal obstruction antics.

John Dean is likely to testify today that he saw Richard Nixon’s obstruction crimes up close, and that Donald Trump’s obstruction crimes are exponentially worse. Some other respected legal experts will testify today as well. Then tomorrow, the full House will hold a highly publicized hearing to formally hold William Barr and some other Trump co-conspirators in contempt of Congress. Then on Wednesday, the House Intel Committee will hold public hearings on the Trump-Russia counterintelligence findings in the Mueller report.

In other words, House Democrats are now decidedly shifting into the public portion of their effort to take Donald Trump down for his crimes. The goal of these hearings is to give an additional boost to the already-rising poll numbers in favor of Trump’s impeachment. The more the needle moves, the more inevitable impeachment becomes. This week’s hearings are crucial in helping determine where this is all headed.

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