Will Donald Trump get impeached?
Due to the ongoing Mueller probe the potential of impeachment for the president becomes ever more likely. The indictments against former high-ranking members of Donald Trump’s administration, such as Micheal Flynn, Paul Manafort and most recently Steven Bannon should be making Republicans sweat. But how likely is it that we’re going to see a premature end to the Trump administration?
In recent history there have only been two presidents who were at a serious risk of being impeached, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. The Watergate scandal was the deathblow for the Nixon administration. It involved a burglary into a headquarters of the Democratic party in which the Nixon administration supposedly had a hand. Nixon and his administration attempt to cover up their involvement and deflect from any probes into the matter, culminating into him firing the person investigating him, which led to a constitutional crisis that threatened his impeachment. He was forced to resign to save face, but came perilously close to being impeached.
Bill Clinton was the second president in recent memory to face impeachment. Numerous sexual harassment allegations in combination with smear campaigns led against him nearly toppled him from power. In fact, Congress voted in favor of impeachment. However, the Senate was unable to gather the votes needed to actually impeach him.
Of these two stories, Nixon’s most closely resembles the current situation for the Trump administration. His recent firing of James Comey is very similar to the Watergate scandal. While the Trump administration has appeared to thrive on scandal thus far, there is a good chance it won’t survive the Mueller Probe.
What is the Mueller Probe about?
The Mueller Probe focuses on contact between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in the presidential election of 2016. In essence, there have been witnesses and evidence brought to the fore that showed that ranking members of the Trump campaign had either attempted or had contact with Russian authorities. This was, according to emails that have been leaked, specifically to get political “dirt” on his political opponent, Hilary Clinton. By law foreign governments are not allowed to interfere with or influence elections in the United States. Therefore, if proven guilty of collusion, Donald Trump and members closely involved in his campaign could face serious charges. This, much like with the Nixon administration, would most likely bring about the end of the Trump administration.
What evidence is there?
George Papadopoulos confessed to have lied to federal authorities and that he had sought contact with people he believed were affiliated with the Russian government. The Russians offered him several thousand incriminating emails regarding Hilary Clinton that the Kremlin had supposedly secured. The Mueller Probe has charged others like Paul Manafort and Rick Gates with money laundering as well. After all, the president of the United States is by law not allowed to receive gifts from foreign entities. If Mueller proves that Russian authorities funneled significant funds into the Trump Campaign that can be used to further build his case.
There’s also the story that Micheal Flynn, formerly Trump’s security advisor had spoken to a Russian ambassador regarding the sanctions the Obama administration had put in place against Russia. Trump’s willingness to lift these sanctions was supposedly the topic of this discussion. Flynn has said he is willing to testify that Trump had ordered him to engage in these talks with the Russians.
Even Trump’s own family could be implicated in this investigation. Donald Trump Jr and his son-in-law Jared Kushner were, among others, part of a meeting in Trump Tower with Russian authorities. Again, this was done under the assumption that the Russians could offer the Trump campaign incriminating documents regarding Hillary Clinton. While supposedly the deal never came to fruition, the meeting alone could be reason enough to press charges.
Avenues of Impeachment
So, let’s say the movement to impeach Trump becomes strong enough to warrant political action. Exactly how would impeachment work?
In order to impeach the president of the United States, both Congress and the Senate must vote with a two-thirds majority in favor of impeachment. As the current Republican majority has not denounced the President for any of his missteps, impeachment seems unlikely. In my opinion, there’s three main reasons this could change.
The Mueller Probe
The Mueller Probe is the most immediate threat to the Trump administration. If Mueller finds enough evidence of collusion with the Russians it could lead to impeachment. Alternatively, there’s also a chance the Mueller Probe will uncover evidence of other crimes. The Trump Organization has long been accused of aiding in international money laundering, which by itself could also result in impeachment.
Either of these could trigger the beginning of impeachment hearings in Congress and the Senate, which can result in impeachment if both have a two-thirds majority in favor of impeachment. Alternatively, Mueller could also serve an indictment against the president directly, though this would cause a constitutional crisis that would require intervention from the Supreme Court.
Either way, the Mueller Probe could end up not just impeaching Donald Trump, but sending him to prison as well.
While Donald Trump certainly still has a significant base of supporters, his approval ratings are so low they are record-breaking. In the mid-terms later this year a great deal of Republican lawmakers may feel that the Trump brand has become more of a liability than an asset in the current political climate. After all, there are many Trump voters who expressed their dissatisfaction by how the Trump administration has been running the country. Be it the myriad of broken campaign promises, the near daily scandals plaguing him and his entire administration and the damage many of Trump’s statements have caused to foreign relations between the US and other nations, many of those who once voted for Trump have turned away from him.
In some states this may prove dangerous for Republican lawmakers known to be supportive of Donald Trump’s plans. There’s already a growing fear that in 2018 Democrats will push out the majority control Republicans currently enjoy. Some Republicans may seek to turn away from Trump in an attempt to retain their positions.
This may even escalate to impeachment hearings. This is less likely to result in impeachment when compared to the Mueller probe. Even so, there’s still a chance that Republicans may choose to oust Trump simply because of his lack of popularity. He has certainly given them no lack of excuses to do so, especially when one takes into account how quickly Trump turns on members of his own administration.
Especially recently the issue of the president’s mental health has become a topic for discussion. In Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” he explicitly states that members of the Trump administration have said that Trump shows signs of dementia. He keeps telling the same stories over and over again to those close to him and fails to recognize people. It’s possible that Congress may oust Trump under the assumption that he is mentally unwell.
This would not even require a two-thirds majority nor involvement of the Senate. If the vice president and a majority in Congress believe that the president is no longer able to serve in office, they can immediately replace him with the vice president.
There are multiple factors currently conspiring against President Trump. The Mueller Probe stands poised to oust him as a criminal, potentially even as a traitor to the nation. His declining popularity is not doing him any favors either. Meanwhile, concerns regarding his mental health may result in his impeachment.
However, as of right now Congress nor the Senate are willing to begin impeachment hearings. The Mueller Probe is still underway. No one will risk impeachment hearings until a conviction is all but certain. While Trump is historically unpopular, he still has a strong base of supporters. Many Republican lawmakers will be unwilling to anger those by going against him.
Even experts say it’s hard to say when impeachment will happen, if at all. There are many factors at work here, both for and against impeachment. Congress might begin with impeachment hearings next week, or Trump will sit out his entire term.
However, I must disappoint those of you who wish Trump’s impeachment to halt his legislative agenda. The Republican party drafts these policies. Even if Trump got impeached, it would not change who drafts these policies or who votes them into law.