Trump Responds To Impeachment Chatter With A Puzzling Threat
In the middle of a particularly scandal-plagued week, President Donald Trump has addressed the possibility of his impeachment. In an interview with Ainsley Earhardt on Fox & Friends on Thursday morning, Aug. 23, he argued that the country would suffer if he were to be impeached. An economic downturn would result, he suggested, and "everybody would be very poor."
"I'll tell ya what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash," he said. "I think everybody would be very poor, because without this thinking" — he pointed to his head — "you would see numbers that you wouldn't believe."
Earhardt had asked whether Trump believed that Congress will impeach him if Democrats win control in the upcoming midterm elections. He didn't explicitly answer the question and instead said, "I don't know how you can impeach somebody who's done a great job."
People have speculated about the possibility of Trump getting impeached since he was elected, but the question took on greater weight this week. Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, was convicted of eight counts of financial crimes on Tuesday, including tax fraud and bank fraud. Michael Cohen, Trump's lawyer, pleaded guilty to a range of financial crimes.
The latter event is what has everybody talking about impeachment, because Cohen's campaign finance violations seem to implicate the president. He's admitted to willfully making "unlawful" or "excessive" contributions to his client's 2016 election campaign (the payments were meant to bury stories about two of Trump's alleged affairs; Trump has denied the affairs and any wrongdoing with campaign finances), and to doing so "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office."
"Although the president is not named in the charges, he is all but an unindicted co-conspirator," law professor Lisa Kern Griffin told Vox. Cohen is alleging that Trump is also guilty of campaign finance violations, which are federal crimes. But there's no law about whether or not such crimes are grounds for impeachment; the discretion is left to Congress.
For Trump to be impeached, a majority in the House of Representatives would need to find him guilty of "high crimes and misdemeanors." If the Senate then approved of his impeachment with a two-thirds majority, he would be removed from office. Only two presidents, Andrew Jackson and Bill Clinton, have ever been impeached, and neither was forced out. Richard Nixon resigned while impeachment proceedings were beginning against him.
Oddsmakers have been betting on Trump's impeachment since his inauguration, and the group Paddy Power slashed its numbers this week. Before the Manafort and Cohen court appearances, Paddy Power had the likelihood of Trump getting impeached at 2/1, but now it's 6/4. Its odds of him getting removed from office in 2018 were at 10/1 and are now 4/1.
"Our punters, certainly, are convinced he'll be impeached — just nine people have bet against it," a spokesperson for Paddy Power told Yahoo. "Mr. Trump has had a few stormy nights during this Presidency but, just as you thought he was getting on top of it, another allegation comes along."