As of this writing, Donald Trump has been President of the United States for 956 days. An awful lot has happened since Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2017. Since the first day, there have been calls for his impeachment. Between 3 and 5 million Americans protested Trump’s election in the two days following his inauguration, and there were reportedly a total of 963 marches spanning the globe.
While his popularity has waxed and waned constantly during his time in office, there has been rampant speculation regarding his potential impeachment throughout. Even so, these controversies haven’t changed his plans to run for reelection in 2020, and a huge number of Democratic challengers have already thrown their hats into the ring as the next election approaches.
The 2018 midterms were seen as something of a warning sign for Trump’s chances at reelection. Democrats secured 218 seats in the House of Representatives in that election, which effectively balanced the powers in Congress. Trump and the Republicans controlled all three branches of the U.S. government throughout most of Trump’s first two years in office.
The Republicans that controlled the majority in the House were never going to vote to impeach a Republican president, regardless of whether or not said president was guilty of actions worthy of punishment. Some Democrats have been staunch in their support of impeachment, while others have been slow to come around on the idea.
We are just over a year away from the 2020 presidential election. Is there a chance Trump will be impeached before the end of his first term?
*Odds via Bovada.
For quite some time, the prevailing thought seemed to be that Trump’s presidency hinged on what would be unearthed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Right after Trump controversially fired FBI Director James Comey in May of 2017, Congress approved the appointment of Mueller, a former FBI Director himself, to investigate whether the president had worked with Russia in an attempt to cheat in the 2016 election.
Russia got caught meddling in the election, and Trump’s apparent fondness and constant praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin had been raising eyebrows for years. Did Trump or his campaign willingly collude with a hostile foreign power in order to influence the outcome of an American election?
Mueller’s investigation led to the arrest and prosecution of a number of those close to Trump, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former personal attorney Michael Cohen, and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The investigation declined to consider whether the president obstructed justice during his handling of the Comey situation, because Mueller said he was operating under the mandate that a sitting president could not be charged with a crime.
Mueller said that Trump was not vindicated of anything, but he also didn’t say he was guilty of anything either. So, in the end, it was essentially a wash. Trump got dragged through the mud for a couple of years, but in the end, the investigation wasn’t nearly as damaging to his presidency as many thought it could be. Trump never really had his feet held to the fire.
Even with the Mueller investigation failing to find a smoking gun regarding the president’s involvement with Russia’s collusion efforts, many Democrats have jumped onto the impeachment bandwagon. As of August 26th, 131 House Democrats have gone on the record in favor of Trump’s impeachment. Justin Amash, who left the Republican party a couple of months ago, has also called for impeachment. Amash is the lone Republican (or former Republican still serving in Congress) to have made the public call. Nearly 40 of those Democrats have made their voices heard since Mueller testified before them in July, including House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel.
The array of investigations into Trump have taken so long that those Democrats now in favor of impeachment have an awkward timeline ahead. Supporting the idea of impeaching a fairly unpopular president really isn’t all that politically risky for Democrats, but the process wouldn’t amount to much. Even if the House successfully voted in favor of impeaching the president, there is almost zero chance the Republican-controlled Senate would oust Trump from office.
The US Constitution states that any serving member of the government can be impeached if they are found guilty of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Congress has also identified three other ways to determine whether someone like a president should be removed from office. They are “improperly exceeding or abusing the powers of the office,” “behavior incompatible with the function and purpose of the office,” and “misusing the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain.”
Impeachment of a president is very rare. It’s only happened twice before. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1867, but the Senate voted against removing him from office. The same thing happened to Bill Clinton in 1998, but the Senate voted against removal again. Richard Nixon was facing impeachment, but he decided to resign from his post before the proceedings could take place.
Some see impeachment as a risky maneuver for congressional Democrats, but those running for president on the Democratic side haven’t been bashful about embracing the notion that Trump should be ousted from office. Elizabeth Warren, who currently serves as a Senator from Massachusetts, was the first presidential candidate to voice her support of impeachment. Since then, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, and Beto O’Rourke have followed suit. Former candidates like Kirsten Gillibrand, Jay Inslee, John Hickenlooper, and Seth Moulton did, too.
Notably absent from those that have voiced support of impeachment is former VP Joe Biden. Biden has taken a moderate approach to his campaign while still being a critic of the sitting POTUS.
Democrats have dragged their feet on whether or not to impeach Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was adamant prior to the 2018 midterms regarding her desire to see Trump impeached, but since the Democrats actually regained the majority in the House, nothing has happened on that front. At this point, it’s fair to wonder if the Democrats just waited too long to get things started. With the election looming in just over a year, is there really a point to going through with impeachment now?
The betting odds favor the idea that Trump will avoid impeachment during his first term in office. We will still hear the idea floated out there before the 2020 election but, at this point, impeachment seems very unlikely to occur before the end of next year. If Trump wins reelection next fall, it seems very likely that the impeachment furor will once again start to gain momentum.
Betting in favor of Trump’s impeachment at +225 does offer potential political betting profit. There is no shortage of drama surrounding the president at all times, and it’s not unreasonable to think that he could do something between now and November of 2020 that will get members in the House to start speaking out about removing him from office again.
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