Their emerging gambit is prompting Trump's GOP defenders -- who have long struggled to coalesce around a coherent strategy of their own -- to launch a fresh counterattack, warning that that a rush to condemn the President proves the Democratic case is shallow and politically motivated.
The showdown over timing emerged from the first House Judiciary Committee hearing on impeachment Wednesday, which shifted the debate from the specific facts of Trump's alleged wrongdoing to the appropriate constitutional consequences that he should face.
The dispute over how fast to go and over the scope of the Democratic impeachment case spilled over -- in far more civil and respectful terms than the bitter exchanges between lawmakers -- in a debate between four renowned law professors asked to testify to the committee on the mechanics and justifications of impeachment.
Three of the four, who were invited by Democrats, agreed that the President's transgressions were already sufficiently severe to justify the ultimate political sanction of impeachment. The fourth, a Republican invitee, urged Democrats to slow down and to exhaust the full extent of the law to compel testimony from key witnesses before making a case to the nation that Trump should be removed.
The controversy over whether Democrats are rushing to judgment offers both sides new strategic options in an increasingly vitriolic collision over whether Trump abused his power in pressuring Ukraine for favors ahead of the 2020 election and a way to compress a case brimming with overwhelming details, unfamiliar foreign actors and profound principles of governance into an understandable narrative.
And it gives each side a measure of constitutional cover for the less lofty factors that are really shaping their calculations — the public's tolerance for an extended impeachment duel and its impact on the 2020 election.
"Are you ready?" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked her caucus on Wednesday
, setting the stage for an accelerated timetable that could see Trump impeached by the full House before the Christmas and New Year break.
The speaker is also quietly taking the temperature of her caucus before making a final decision on the end game of the House process -- and how widely to draw articles of impeachment, CNN's Manu Raju reported on Wednesday. The speaker is set to deliver a statement on the status of the impeachment inquiry at 9 a.m. ET Thursday, which will give her an opportunity to announce the next stage of the proceedings.
In Wednesday's hearing, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler warned in increasingly dire terms that Democrats had no choice but to swiftly move against the President to protect the nation.
"If we do not act to hold him in check now, President Trump will almost certainly try again to solicit interference in the election for his personal, political benefit," the New York Democrat warned -- implicitly rejecting a Republican argument that Trump's fate should be left to voters to decide this close to the November 2020 election.