The public hearings marked a turning point for House Democrats from which they are unlikely to turn back. After months of pursuit of Mr. Trump and years of Democratic agony over his flouting of political norms, the Ukraine inquiry now appear to have too much momentum to be turned back short of impeachment, even if it means muscling through a partisan vote akin to Republicans’ impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998.
Indeed, whether the inquiry has any chance of penetrating the intense partisan polarization that has gripped the country in recent years remains the central question for Democrats and Mr. Trump. Public polling suggests a slight majority of the country supports the inquiry, but Democratic leaders privately concede that given Mr. Trump’s fervent base of support, almost no scenario could tip the country against Mr. Trump more decisively.
The inquiry, which has produced a rapid succession of disclosures in the past seven weeks, may only accelerate from here. The Intelligence Committee has scheduled another public hearing for Friday with Ms. Yovanovitch, and will hear testimony from eight more witnesses next week, including several requested by Republicans.
By the time lawmakers leave for a weeklong Thanksgiving recess, staff for the Intelligence Committee may begin drafting a formal report of its findings to present to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration in early December. Some Democratic leaders hope that the House could vote on articles of impeachment by the year’s end.
Republicans cannot stop Democrats from impeaching Mr. Trump, but they appear to be determined to ensure that any vote to do so is partisan. Their strategy is multipronged. It includes defending Mr. Trump’s interest in Ukrainian corruption as legitimate, and portraying Democrats as desperate to find something, anything, to take out Mr. Trump.
“The main performance, the Russia hoax, has ended, and you’ve been cast in the low-rent Ukrainian sequel,” said Representative Devin Nunes of California, the Intelligence Committee’s top Republican, said in an opening statement.
He spoke of a “politicized bureaucracy,” working against Mr. Trump, saying that diplomats in the State Department had worked to undercut the president. In the process, Mr. Nunes said, they had “lost the confidence of millions of Americans who believe that their vote should count for something.”