The Note: Impeachment cements partisan sorting

If you’re looking for a moment of clarity, you could do worse than this day.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

If you’re looking for a moment of clarity, you could do worse than this day for the history books.

In the relatively short life of the current impeachment push, political perceptions have shifted far more than the basic facts ever have. Both parties have found occasions to see it as an organizing tool and fundraising booster, and everything from a principled stand to a losing argument.

As the foregone conclusion becomes reality with Wednesday’s pair of House votes on articles of impeachment, events have cemented the partisan divide and party discipline as perfectly as any issue can.

As few as two Democrats are expected to vote with Republicans against impeachment, including one who is expected to switch parties and another who plans to split his votes on the two articles.

President Donald Trump and his team go into the day defiant as ever. Rudy Giuliani is practically daring Democrats to up their ante, and Trump himself offered an angry letter he said he hoped history would remember.

"Everyone, you included, knows what is really happening," Trump wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday.

What’s happening is not actually in serious doubt. There will be impeachment in the House, and near-certain acquittal in the Senate.

But what it means is a moving target. It is a blurry moment, except through the partisan lenses that define this era.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

After Trump barred his former and current White House staffers from answering questions from House investigators and refused to turn over State Department and other executive branch documents requested by subpoena as a part of the inquiry, he personally wrote to Pelosi on the eve of his pending impeachment Tuesday afternoon.

Nothing in his six-page letter sounded conciliatory, of course.

To date, the president has not ceded an inch of ground in the debate about the appropriateness of his words and actions toward Ukrainian leaders. He has shown the opposite of remorse or pause -- he has instead gone full steam ahead, as is his way.

"Your first claim, 'Abuse of Power,' is a completely disingenuous, meritless, and baseless invention of your imagination. You know that I had a totally innocent conversation with the President of Ukraine," he wrote in his letter.

Though White House lawyers were not consulted, the letter is clearly meant to stand as his most formal rebuttal to the arguments Democrats pose.

It is formal by way of being printed on White House letter, while completely informal in tone, grammar, argument and approach to dealing with the factual evidence at hand.

Perhaps the letter is a sign of the White House defense to come in the Senate.

Over the last few days, several Republicans in the upper chamber, including Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have faced serious backlash from Democrats and legal experts for admitting outright they plan to approach the proceedings as jurors who have already decided on the facts of the case.

"The Oath taken in an impeachment trial is different. It is a juror’s oath and a judge’s oath -- not a legislator’s oath. … This approach is patently anti-Constitutional and can only exacerbate the problem the Constitution was designed to mitigate," Jeffrey Tulis, professor of Government at The University of Texas at Austin, wrote in an op-ed for The Bulwark last week.

With almost-certain impeachment Wednesday, there are only weeks before the Senate will let us know.

The TIP with Zohreen Shah

An exuberant Elizabeth Warren stood behind Unite Here Local 11's union office Monday afternoon, flanked by around 50 union workers, telling reporters, "I may just dance my way onto the debate stage!"

Warren was the first candidate last Friday to say she wouldn't cross the union picket line in front of Loyola Marymount University, Thursday's debate's venue, setting off a domino effect with every other qualifying candidate.

By Tuesday, she emerged a hero, having led the way to the union workers receiving an eleventh-hour tentative agreement with their employer, Sodexo, the company Loyola Marmount has a contract with.

Maria Hernandez, Unite Here's local 11's organizer said, "I think the workers got taken seriously at the table." Negotiations had been stalled, and Hernandez said their contract is "significantly better than any other past contracts these workers have ever had. It's historic."

Before the press conference Tuesday, loud cheers could be heard from the union's office. Hernandez said the workers were thanking Warren in the office upstairs for leading the charge for change to their pocketbooks.

It's unclear how many will turn up as Super Tuesday voters, but for now, many have turned into debate night viewers.

"A lot of working class folks don't have time to think about politics ... but they're all really excited to see the debate now," said Hernandez.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Wednesday morning’s episode features a preview of today’s impeachment vote in the House with ABC News Political Director Rick Klein. Then after surprise medical bills of her own left her reeling, we hear from a piano teacher to get reaction to the latest spending bill, which ignores the issue of those bills. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Donald Trump holds a Merry Christmas rally at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Michigan, at 7 p.m. ET.
  • House of Representatives vote on articles of impeachment against President Trump. Watch ABC News Live for coverage starting at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • Vice President Mike Pence delivers remarks at a Workers for Trump event in Saginaw, Michigan, at 11:35 a.m. ET. Later, he attends President Trump’s Merry Christmas rally, where he speaks at 7 p.m. ET.
  • Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, joined by Mayor Eric Garcetti, California Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo and Latino health care stakeholders, holds a roundtable discussion on health care at 9 a.m. PT in Los Angeles.
  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro visits the Downtown Women’s Center and tours Skid Row in Los Angeles starting at 10 a.m. PT. Later, he tours the Right Way Foundation and meets with foster youth at 2 p.m. PT. To end the night, he participates in a town hall on worker solidarity and migrant justice in Pasadena at 7 p.m. PT.
  • Attorney General Bill Barr announces a new initiative to fight violent crime in Detroit at 2:30 p.m. ET.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., meets with Latinx community leaders for a roundtable discussion hosted by Mi Familia Vota at 3:30 p.m. PT in Las Vegas. Later, he holds a Conservation with Cory event at 6:30 p.m. PT.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., attends an Amy for America fundraising event in Los Angeles at 5:30 p.m. PT.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.