In the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, American University professor and longtime political prognosticator Allan Lichtman made an election prediction that roiled Democrats and Hillary Clinton supporters, and cheered Republicans and Donald Trump supporters, including the now-president himself. Lichtman predicted that Trump would beat Clinton, using his time-worn "13 keys to the White House" system that had correctly called every presidential race for the last 30 years. Now, he's made another bold prediction: He believes that Trump will be impeached at some point in his presidency. On April 18, he'll publish a book, The Case for Impeachment, outlining how he sees this going down.
Lichtman, 70, once ran for political office himself, vying to become a senator from Maryland back in 2006. On the whole, he sticks to analyzing political history, and its that decades-long career in analysis that's informed his opinion on Trump being impeached.
He doesn't base this conclusion on a longstanding checklist of factors like his White House keys ― rather, its rooted strictly in his view of American presidential history, which leads him to identify eight different ways that Trump could go down.
It's a case that he lays out in a new book, The Case for Impeachment, which will be out on April 18. Here are a few of the reasons he believes Trump will be impeached, per the Washington Post.
A History Of "Flouting" The Law
As Lichtman's profile in the Post notes, one reason he believes Trump will face impeachment is a tendency to skirt or duck the strict confines of what's legal, as demonstrated by the slew out lawsuits he faced throughout his business career:
For example, Trump has repeatedly, as a businessman, flouted the law. He kind of began his career by getting in trouble with the Department of Justice, which had a very strong case against him that he’d broken the Fair Housing Act. ... Over the course of his entire business career, he has a pattern of playing fast and loose with the law, and letting statutes of limitations run out, settling cases, protracting lawsuits, walking away from failed deals.
In the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, USA Today reported that Trump had been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits throughout his private sector career, a record which was unprecedented for a presidential candidate. And true to form, since he was inaugurated in January, his administration has been flooded with an unprecedented number of legal challenges.
Being A Major Liability For The GOP In The Midterm Elections
As Lichtman aptly points out, Trump is safe from impeachment so long as the GOP controls the House, and doesn't get any thoughts about defying him. But that could change, whether through seismic scandal, or (far more likely) political liability. Whether Trump's first year and a half goes badly enough to cost the Republicans a significant number of seats in the House in 2018, or actually lose control of it altogether, either outcome could dramatically accelerate an impeachment push. Says Lichtman:
The Republican Congress could conceivably move to impeachment if they believe Trump is a liability to them, and remember, every member has to stand for reelection in 2018. And Trump has no long-standing relationship with these members of Congress. He hasn’t really been a mainstay of the Republican Party.
All the more so since the Republican establishment positively loves Vice President Mike Pence, himself a former representative from Indiana, as well as the state's governor.
It's Not That Uncommon, Either
Contrary to the popular perception, Lichtman points out that presidential impeachments aren't that rare, with one out of every 14 presidents having faced it. It's become a more common threat in recent years, too. While Richard Nixon resigned to escape impeachment, he surely would've been, and Bill Clinton actually was ― impeachment, it's important to remember, only means that the House decided the Senate should hold a trial on whether to remove the president, not that the president is ultimately removed. As Lichtman told the Post, "Gamblers have gotten rich betting much longer odds than that."
In short, it's not such an unforeseeable possibility under normal circumstances, with presidents who operate far more within the mainstream of political norms and traditions than Trump has. And Trump is already embroiled in multiple, potentially severe scandals and controversies in his less than 100 days in office ― his continuing ownership of his business empire, for example, and the ever-widening investigation into ties between his campaign and the Russian government, with the FBI actively investigating possible collusion.
The only real question is whether he's done enough damage politically to either flip the House to the Democrats, or convince a handful of Republicans to side with them in an impeachment vote, and that's not nearly as unthinkable a future as it might sound.