We do not know what the days ahead will bring, but we do know it will be unprecedented. To be sure the specter of Nixon and Clinton hang over an impeachment process moving onto the public stage. This time, however, feels far different. This president, in rhetoric and action, has raised so many questions about his fitness for office, that the latest charge, as serious as it is, stands as but one of many potentially impeachable offenses. It is a fair assumption to conclude we do not know of many others, those hidden behind secret conversations with Putin and unreleased tax returns.

The brazenness of the President’s extortion of a foreign nation, in service to his own political needs and at the expense of our national security, still strains even the extended range of what we have come to believe is possible. What has transpired since these actions were revealed, the attacks on women and men of sterling character, the hurricane of lies, the spinelessness of Republican politicians to choose country over party, suggests our dark days will continue.

In previous impeachment processes, as acrimonious as they may have been, I never had a belief that our political system was as brittle as it is now. Those were crimes of power and ego. This one puts our nation’s standing and safety at risk. It involves not only Ukraine but Russia, always Russia.

My mood is complicated. As a reporter, this a story unlike any in our history. I hope to do it justice. As an American citizen, however, I am struck by sadness, a deep, deep sadness, that we have come to this point. In previous times, we weren’t being as driven apart by social media. What will that mean for these hearings? We didn’t have a political party with its own propaganda operation as we do with the President and Fox News. We didn’t have such cravenness, such widespread stink of corruption, so much patently undemocratic instincts by those who have sworn an oath to the Constitution.

Yet despite all these obstructions to the process of justice, we are where we are because brave, patriotic Americans stood up and said what the President did was wrong. They will now say so in front of cameras, and posterity. The Democrats in the House, in contrast to the President’s smokescreens, have largely comported themselves with restraint and a clear sense of purpose. It will be up to them to pierce the fog of deceit and paint a narrative that shapes public opinion.

In the end, I will not underestimate my fellow Americans. My lifetime of experience has shown that ultimately the causes of justice tend to win out, even if the journey is long and circuitous. You will hear often that impeachment is a political process, and so the ultimate verdict will be up to all of us, most likely, considering the Republicans in the Senate, at the ballot box less than a year from now.