The Likelihood Of Trump Being Impeached Is A Matter Of Political Calculus For The GOP

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Share

As the wheels of controversy keep spinning, and more and more members of Congress start talking openly about the possibility of removing the president from office, it's gradually become quite relevant to wonder about the likelihood of Trump being impeached. Once the odds of Trump not finishing his term spiked in the betting markets, this former (and possibly still) liberal pipe dream started to feel like it had a real chance. Not a certainty, but something with similar chances as a favored horse has to win a race.

There's a bit more to take into account, though, when it comes to getting rid of a president whose party also controls both houses of Congress. And when members of this president's party were constantly musing about impeaching Obama, although they could find no concrete reason to do so. In two words, partisanship rules. And the fact is that although the left may be brimming with potential reasons to impeach Trump — possible obstruction of justice, giving classified information to a hostile foreign power, the continuing scandal over potential collusion with that foreign power in order to get elected — it's not going to happen with a fully Republican-controlled Congress until it becomes politically expedient to do it.

Given the focus that Republicans across the country put on Hillary Clinton's misuse of a private server for the last several years, it seems highly unlikely that she could have gotten away with a single thing that Trump's managed to do without impeachment proceedings getting in her way. But Trump, on the other hand, provides that potential final signature that the GOP Congress needs pass its legislation — if they could get anything off the ground, an effort that Trump seems to be impeding.

Republicans in Congress, it seems, will do just about anything to stay in power. Because of that, the impeachment of Trump will only seem truly likely under one of two circumstances: if the investigation into potential collusion between his campaign and Russia turns up a smoking gun that even Paul Ryan can't ignore, or if it appears that Trump's unpopularity will drag down the whole party in the next election.

A couple of Democrats have already started openly claiming that Trump's actions are impeachable, and Angus King, an independent senator from Maine, has also said that it has become a possibility. The White House seems to recognize this possibility as well, as reports have emerged that their team of lawyers has begun researching impeachment procedures. Trump's approval numbers are also incredibly low for a president so early in his term, and Democrats have been doing better than expected in various state and local elections.

How many special elections in red districts will Democrats have to win before Republicans in Congress realize that Trump's continual disregard for the weight of his office is putting their job in danger? How low will his poll numbers among people who previously supported him have to drop before concerns about his supposedly unbreakable base threaten to sink the ship? Or, in the other scenario, what will that final smoking gun have to be for Ryan and McConnell to concede that they picked the wrong horse? A personal agreement between Putin and Trump, in writing? Money flowing into Trump accounts from numerous Russian oligarchs at once? An admission from Trump on Twitter that his mercenaries try to talk around? All of those things are made up, but does anything seem impossible at this point?

It's nice to look at the odds of Trump's impeachment jumping in the betting markets, but it's going to take more than that to remove him from office. Trump's Republican enablers certainly aren't going to do it out of some sense of morality, or care for the fate of the nation — so we're going to wait until they realize that Trump's going down, and he's taking all of them with him.