(Rich Galen, Mullings) – Notwithstanding the breathless discussions on the cable chat shows, we are a long, long way from seriously discussing the Impeachment of Donald Trump.
As we discussed in our last class, it took about two years from the time (1972) the criminals hired by Richard Nixon’s reelection operation (called the Campaign to Reelect the President and known colloquially as CREEP) got caught breaking into the Watergate Hotel and the time (1974) the House Judiciary Committee voted on three Articles of Impeachment.
I am not suggesting that Donald Trump has been found committing an impeachable offense. Even if he has, that only (only!) affects the President.
What I’m looking at is the effect on Trump’s behavior – impeachable or not – on the Republican Members of the House and Senate.
In our history, only two Presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Nixon would have been, but chose to resign before the full House could vote.
Johnson and Clinton were Democrats. The House was controlled by Republicans. Nixon was a Republican. The House was controlled by Democrats.
See where I’m going here?
Were Trump to be impeached –
I know YOU know this, but on the off-chance that the person in the next cube does not: The House can impeach the President (or any federal civil official) by majority vote. Think of it like an indictment in the real world.
If someone is impeached, the matter goes over to the U.S. Senate (think of them like the jury). If two-thirds of the Senators voting agree with the House’s judgement, then the impeached individual is convicted and immediately removed from office.
Oh, one more thing:
The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution also provides that if a President leaves office – for whatever reason – and the VP takes over, whether or not the VP can run once more or twice more depends upon how much time was left in the President’s term. If the VP’s service is more than two years he or she can only run once more. If two years or less, he or she can run two more times and, thus, potentially serve for 10 years.
We call this the Comey Slam.
Were Trump to be impeached by the current House, it would be the first time a President was indicted by his own party.
But, we’re nowhere near that yet. And it is likely we will never actually get there.
It is most likely that Donald Trump will serve out his 4-year term and either retire (saying “Everybody’s telling me I am the best President in the history of America.”) or be defeated for the nomination for a second term.
The question that is looming most large is: What, if any, will be the wreckage in the House and Senate he leaves behind (“It was rigged by Hillary.”)
Barack Obama, as we’ve been told dozens of times, lost 60+ seats in the U.S. House, more than a dozen in the U.S. Senate, 30-some Governors and more than 1,000 State Legislative seats.
According to the Website five-thirty-eight.com:
At the beginning of Obama’s term, Democrats controlled 59 percent of state legislatures, while now they control only 31 percent, the lowest percentage for the party since the turn of the 20th century. They held 29 governor’s offices and now have only 16, the party’s lowest number since 1920.
Hard to top that.
Let’s take the Nixon case as a model. The House Judiciary Committee was made up of 21 Democrats and 17 Republicans. There were three Articles of Impeachment brought to a vote.
Follow me here. Of those 17 Republicans, 10 voted “No” on all three. Of those 10, five were defeated in that Fall’s mid-term elections.
A fifty-percent casualty rate for supporting Richard Nixon is not a stat which will be lost on Republican Members four decades on.
It is in Trump’s interests (to put it mildly) to ensure Republicans maintain control of the House after the 2018 mid-terms. As of today, the GOP has a 45-seat majority: 238-193. That means a change of 23 seats creates Speaker Nancy Pelosi (or someone very much like her) and with it, the subpoena power shifts to the Democrats.
I think Republican pollsters all over the land are sharpening their pencils and beginning to try and find out whether their clients should be supporting Donald Trump, ignoring Donald Trump, or denouncing Donald Trump.
In any case, it is unlikely they will be Impeaching Donald Trump.
Mr. Galen is a veteran political strategist and communications consultant. He blogs at www.Mullings.com.