Don’t get me wrong. Chairman Schiff is fiercely partisan and no one would have expected him to call it down the middle. A serious impeachment effort, however, has to try to attract support from Republicans and independents.
Schiff gives us not a feint in that direction. His narrative is the Democratic base’s political case against Trump. There is no pretense of at least presenting the other side of the story, even if only for the purpose of refuting it.
To repeat what I argued in “Faithless Execution” (2014), impeachment is counterproductive if there is no plausible chance of removing the president from power. To impeach under circumstances where the president is certain to be acquitted at the eventual Senate trial (where a two-thirds supermajority is required for conviction and removal) is only to encourage further executive excesses.
That is why impeachment is a historical rarity even when the House (where only a simple majority is needed to file articles of impeachment) is controlled by the president’s opposition party. Prudent lawmakers grasp that it is not merely a waste of time to pursue impeachment in futility. Doing so fosters divisiveness in society and dysfunction in government.
Schiff is not trying to develop a broad public consensus that the president should be removed from office. His report is a 2020 campaign document. Its heavy-handedness is only going to irritate Republicans. That includes many who are not particularly enamored of the president but want to see a fair process.