Trump: Towards impeachment? Unlikely

It seems that last few turbulent days brought the topic of impeachment of President Donald Trump back. Do you see any possible path to impeachment or would you say such discussion is simply totally premature, and why? Read few comments.

Bruce Miroff, Professor, Department of Political Science, SUNY Albany

Trump’s troubles will have to become much worse before impeachment becomes a realistic undertaking.  No president in American history has faced a serious threat of impeachment by the House of Representatives, much less conviction by the Senate, when that president’s party had majority control of Congress.  For Trump to be threatened with impeachment, congressional Republicans in large numbers will have to turn decisively against him.  And they will not do so as long as a large majority of Republican voters continue to say that they support the president.

Steffen SchmidtUniversity Professor of Political Science, Iowa State University

The events surrounding President Trump and the White House are extraordinary. The scope of problems suggests that even Republicans and certainly most Democrats in Congress can no longer accept the flaws and misbehavior by Mr. Trump. These include:

Pres. Trump asking FBI directory for loyalty; Firing Director Comey just as the Russian hacking of US election was growing; the White House meeting with Russian Foreign Minister, Ambassador and other Russian officials and not allowing US media into the meeting but giving access to TASS which was shocking; the revelation of highly classified intelligence on ISIL by a source in Syria; the threat by Mr. Trump that he is taping White House conversations; and now breaking news that Trump asked the FBI Director asked former FBI Director James Comey to shut down an investigation into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and Fly’s Russian connections.

Yes, it is now highly possible that the Congress will seriously consider impeachment of President Trump. It is also possible that Republicans may ask Trump to resign and avoid impeachment.

The Comey notes taken by Mr. Comey at the time and which can be confirmed by many people because he filed them about interfering with the Flynn investigation is seen as the most likely legal argument – “obstruction of justice” – to trigger impeachment.

HOWEVER impeachment is a political not a purely legal action. Therefore, I am told by my closest Republican contacts that the total paralysis in Washington and the potential damage to the Republican Party for the 2018 elections is what is most likely to pull the impeachment trigger.

I would add that political events often rely on metaphors or history.

Even though Watergate and the Pres. Nixon resignation August 8, 1974 was different, the current crisis in the White House is “Nixonian” and smells like Watergate to most Americans. Nixon went after the news media and we now hear that Mr. Trump asked FBI Director Comey to arrest reporters for reporting on “leaked” information.

Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha, Professor and Chair of Political Science, University of North Texas

Talk of impeachment is premature. The key is loss of support among not only Republican legislators, but also among the public. Without a doubt, President Trump is not popular among the American people (see his relatively low approval ratings in the upper 30 percent). Republicans are also beginning to worry about the President’s competence. Impeachment is a last resort, and I do not expect Republican legislators to take it lightly. There is a risk to Republicans right now, however, since they may be seen by voters as part of the Washington establishment. Trump can easily use that against them, that he is being impeached (if we get to that point) because he is an outsider who is there to drain the swamp. That argument will resonate with his base of support, many of whom are needed to also keep Republicans in control of Congress, until there is clear and unequivocal evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” I can see this happening, but there is not enough there, yet to see Republicans break ranks and call on the president’s impeachment. Keep in mind, as well, that even the march towards a Nixon impeachment took time. This will be no different, if we even get to that point, because impeachment is serious business.

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