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The impeachment inquiry is the first to involve an issue of geopolitical gravity: Whether the president was undercutting American national interests — containing Russia — to bolster his campaign.
The last two impeachment investigations of the past half-century began with a third-rate burglary and an extramarital affair. They quickly expanded to question the credibility and ethics of the president, but never touched on America’s national interests in the weightiest geopolitical confrontations of their eras.
The sober, just-the-facts testimony of two previously little-known diplomats on Wednesday left no doubt that the investigation into President Trump’s actions is fundamentally different. Mr. Trump had a choice between executing his administration’s own strategy for containing Russia or pursuing a political obsession at home.
In an otherwise divided Washington, one of the few issues of bipartisan agreement for the past six years has been countering Russian President Vladimir V. Putin’s broad plan of disruption. That effort starts in Ukraine, where there has been a hot war underway in the east for five years, and a cyber war underway in the capital, Kiev.
It is exactly that policy that Mr. Trump appears to have been discarding when he made clear, in the haunting words attributed to Gordon D. Sondland, who parlayed political donations into the ambassadorship to the European Union, that “President Trump cares more about the investigation of Biden” than about Ukraine’s confrontation with Mr. Putin’s forces.
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