Friday, January 18, 2019

Not Gonna Happen, Explained

Every couple of weeks, one of my colleagues at NPSIA, an economist, asks me, "Come on, Steve, are you still so sure Trump will not be impeached?" (Caveat: I got 2016 wrong, so what do I know?)  We had that conversation again yesterday.  I wish I could just flash this thing I created at him
To be clear, there are a few stages to the impeachment process: the House of Representatives considers one or more articles (charges) of impeachment (you can bet on multiple articles); then the House votes and a majority of yea's sends it to the Senate.  So, when folks say a President has been impeached, they might mean just this part of the process, and, if so, my meme above doesn't apply.  However, there is the next stage, where the Senate holds a trial and then the entire Senate acts as jury, with a 2/3s vote needed to convict.  My meme above refers to that--don't count on Trump losing his office due to impeachment precisely because I don't think that 67 Senators will vote to impeach.

Let me explain.  I have changed my mind about the first stage.  The latest revelations--that Trump directed his lawyer (and probably others) to lie to Congress--are definitely impeachable.  As someone on twitter reminded me, the first article against Nixon was exactly this.  I am sure that the Mueller report will contain enough stuff that it will be hard, if not impossible, for the Democrats in the House to avoid voting on impeachment.  Nancy Pelosi can count votes, and I am pretty sure she will get a heap of pressure by much of the party to put impeachment articles on the agenda. 
Quick tangent: why wouldn't Pelosi want to have Trump impeached?  Because she and other Dems think they would be in the same position as the 1998 Republicans who got smacked pretty hard for trying to impeach Clinton.  I think this is different--that Trump has proven to be unfit to a majority of Americans.  Yes, his base will be pissed and turn out more in 2020.  However, this will also energize the Democratic base, and, since turnout is a Democratic problem and there are more Democrats than Republicans, and since Trump is not appealing to independents either, I don't think this is 1998.  I am guessing Pelosi will agree eventually.
So, I think impeachment in terms of the first stage will happen.  But here's the thing--if they can't even get 60 Senators to keep sanctions on Russian companies linked to Putin, how will an impeachment vote get 67 votes?  Keeping sanctions on the Russians is EASY--no one's base is demanding the reduction of sanctions on the Russians yet the GOP, including the supposed voice of moderation Mitt Romney, held the line.  FFS.  So, no, the President will not be impeached.  Nor will he be 25th Amendment-ed, as that would require his cabinet to turn against him and then getting a super-majority vote through the Senate (and House).

It comes down to this--Trump is only leaving the White House in six ways (in increasing order of likelihood):
  1. Trump loses the primaries to another Republican.  Fun to imagine, not going to happen.  The GOP is his party now, and a large chunk, the most likely to show up at a primary election are a bunch of cultists.
  2. Trump quits.  One could imagine him making a deal where he and his family get to keep their ill-gotten gains and go free but leave office.  I doubt it, since he has been trained to think being President gives him immunity and allows him to pardon anyone he wants. And why should he not believe these things.
  3. Trump is impeached as the GOP in the Senate realize that their states actually contain a good number of folks who have been hurt by Trump's policies (these policies tend to hurt GOP voters but not GOP donors).
  4. Trump leaves at the end of his second term.
  5. Trump has a heart attack, stroke, or other medical problem that either kills him or permits 25th amendment to be applied.
  6. Trump is defeated by a Democratic candidate in 2020.  This is the only path that Democrats can really count on.  Trump can still win, of course, but this the one where Democratic activism, effort, donations, organization, etc can make a difference.  The Dems can't make the Republican Senators value country over party, but they can do their damnedest to turn out and win.  
Oh, and one fact--no President has been convicted by the Senate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like it happened xD