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Impeachment probe a sign that Trump’s politics are a threat to Democrats

The decision by the Judiciary Committee to launch an impeachment inquiry into President Trump — the result of the Judiciary panel’s own lawyers and, many Democrats believe, the consensus of the country — reflects a continuing concern within the Democratic Party, voters and activists that Mr. Trump’s actions are unacceptable and a further sign that this is not yet the time to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“This is a real moment in time that many people have been waiting for, and I think at the end of the day, ultimately, this is going to be decided in a general election,” said Representative Ted Lieu, a California Democrat. “But this is about holding him accountable and holding this country accountable as well.”

Others say the highly partisan nature of the investigation could energize Democratic voters more than a narrowly focused inquiry over Mr. Trump’s conflicts of interest, although it could also delay the impeachment proceedings for weeks or months.

But for many Democrats, the agreement to launch an impeachment inquiry is also a sign that Mr. Trump’s politics are threatening not just his presidency, but Democrats’ bid to gain control of the House in the fall.

“The Democrats and the country should be overwhelmingly united behind this investigation, because this is not about Donald Trump,” Representative Yvette Clarke, a New York Democrat, said at a Wednesday news conference. “This is about how we safeguard democracy in this country.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat and incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview with The New York Times that he does not plan to hold an impeachment inquiry, which would last for more than a year.

But in an indication of his determination to be a staunch adversary of Mr. Trump, he said: “I do believe very strongly that we should proceed with an investigation so that there can be an independent evaluation of these charges.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Nadler echoed his remarks in a statement: “If we do not believe that President Trump has been truthful with the American people about Russian interference in our election, we have a constitutional responsibility to find out.”