Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Let's talk about impeachment

Jason Chaffetz, who is Chair of the House Oversight Committee, has been a stalwart defender of Trump, actively stonewalling as many investigations as possible on his behalf.

Remember those Comey conversations that Trump wasn't taping?  Comey was keeping notes and writing memos, and Chaffetz says he wants the memos.  If Chaffetz really is going to subpoena the memos, that means he isn't stonewalling for Trump anymore.  Oh, and Chaffetz isn't running for reelection, so he is also fearless right now.  Telling Comey to back off of the Flynn-Russia investigation, and then firing Comey for not backing off Russia?  Yeah, that's pretty clearly obstruction, and that's a felony.  It's impeachable.  It's time to start asking whether or not it will really happen.

The odds are against it, but let's talk about why.

Right now, if you head over to PredictIt, they've got it at roughly one in three that Trump is out by the end of the year, and 30% that Trump is impeached (with the difference being a voluntary resignation).  PredictWise has it at 27% that Trump leaves office this year.

I put the odds at the lower end, but we need to start asking these questions seriously.  This isn't about legality, though.  It's about politics.  In order for Trump to be impeached, you need articles of impeachment brought in the House, and then the Senate holds a trial, with a supermajority needed to convict.

The problem with the House is that it is a majority party institution.  You won't get any major action on anything in the House--almost ever-- without the consent of the Speaker.  If Republicans in the House support articles of impeachment, even if incriminating tapes emerge, it is because Paul Ryan didn't twist their arms not to do so.  And no matter how incriminating these hypothetical tapes are, there will be a bunch of batshit crazy people who say it's all a conspiracy and they can't give in to the liberal media and the lizard people, or whoever, and threaten to take down Paul Ryan if he doesn't pull out all the stops to block the articles of impeachment, no matter how bad Trump makes things for himself.  If Ryan can't stop those articles of impeachment, he doesn't have to lose very many rank-and-file Republicans before he gets Boehnered.  He'll certainly lose this guy...

And even if Ryan can't stop the articles of impeachment from passing, there's that pesky Senate trial.  Supermajority to convict.  2/3.  That's not easy.  Getting Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski?  Sure.  John McCain and his rent-boy, Lindsey Graham?  Maybe.  Jeff Flake's no fan.  Congratulations.  You're at 53.  14 more to go.  Getting to 67 in the Senate, no matter what the evidence is, would be a ridiculously hard slog.

So, what about 2018?  Trump scandals aren't going to stop any time soon, and Democrats, unless they are even dumber than Donnie-boy himself, should be able to capitalize.  They may even be able to take Congress.  They won't get to 67 in the Senate, but they could ease the burden.

However, even if they do so, the smarter thing to do, politically, is to leave Trump boxed in as a president who can't do anything legislatively, can't appoint anyone, and makes his party look so bad he hands everything to the Democrats in 2020.  Unless he burns the planet to a cinder in a temper tantrum before we get there.

So, impeachment?  Not likely.  Possible, but not likely.  Paul Ryan will have incentives to stop the articles from getting through the House to avoid getting Boehnered, and reaching 67 in the Senate means reaching some difficult targets.

But, it's time to start thinking through the possibilities.


  1. P = probability that Trump DOESN'T destroy the entire country
    D = # of seats Dems would gain in 2020 (assuming country exists)
    M (for mother) = value of having Pence as president for most of 2019 and 2020 (which, itself, has a different P & D in it, but that P is almost identical to 1, but D(Pence) is SLIGHTLY less than D(Trump))

    P(D) < M ?

    Honestly....that different value of P inside of M is REALLY going to do a lot of heavy lifting.

    The damage done by Trump will remain after Pence is installed as president.
    Don't believe me? In 1976, we elected Jimmy Fucking Carter president.

    1. To be pedantic, it would be PU(D)<U(M), where U(M) incorporates seat gains under Mother (nice, by the way). However, you are missing that a) Time for a Change predicted a Democratic victory after two previous GOP victories in '76, and Ford had the Nixon pardon thing working against him. Trump will just pardon himself.

      Also, I'm not convinced Carter fucked, although he did have lust in his heart.

    2. Ford was toast regardless. Watergate toasted him. After that, he might as well have pardoned Nixon--it wasn't going to hurt him anymore than he was already hurt.

    3. Ford came into office with a 71% approval rating, according to Gallup, and it tanked immediately. You're telling me that the pardon had nothing to do with that? Even after that, he was riding just under the 50/50 line, which brings me back to the Time for a Change model. It was time for a change. Abramowitz wins again.