President Trump has had a rough week. On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that the president asked former FBI Director James Comey to drop the bureau's investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn's alleged ties with Russia. Then, on Wednesday, the Department of Justice appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to take over the investigation of Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
With his administration battered by constant scandal, the president is now facing growing talk of impeachment. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., made headlines on Wednesday for likely being the first Republican on the Hill to broach the subject of impeachment publicly. The online wagering site PredictIt saw record bets this week from observers looking to cash in on Trump's removal from office.
I hate to rain on their parade, but impeaching a sitting president is a highly improbable event no matter how bad the scandals get. Moreover, removing a president from office has never been done before in United States history.
Anti-Trump partisans should get comfortable in their seats. We're likely in for four full years.
In case your high school government skills are a bit rusty, I'll run through a review of the impeachment process. A president can be impeached by a simply majority vote in the House of Representatives — not necessarily a major feat. However, to be removed from office, he must sit trial and be convicted by a two-thirds vote of the Senate for "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors," according to Article II Section 4 of the Constitution.
That means 67 Senate votes are needed to remove Trump. With Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, it is unlikely that an impeachment trial would be brought to the Senate and even unlikelier that at least 21 Republicans would vote for his removal.
Historically, only two presidents were brought before an impeachment trial — Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999. Both faced a hostile Senate ruled by the opposing party, yet both were ultimately acquitted. Trump would have to lose serious favor with the GOP for impeachment to be remotely possible, and even so it would be an uphill battle.
At the end of the day, calls for impeachment are mere wishful thinking — especially considering the cult of the presidency that has emerged in recent decades. Instead of aiming for such a short-sighted, impossible goal, opponents of Trump should plan a more long-term opposition strategy for 2020 and beyond.
Casey Given (@CaseyJGiven) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is the executive director of Young Voices.
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