Trump Impeachment Likely, Removal Thinkable

For the first time, it's conceivable that Republicans will turn against the President.

The rapidly-unfolding story of President Trump’s attempts to get his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate a potential 2020 rival has done what millions of dollars and two-plus years of the Mueller investigation could not: galvanize Republicans against him.

WaPo’s Greg Miller reports on the extraordinary work done by the whistleblower:

From the moment he learned about President Trump’s attempts to extract political dirt on former vice president Joe Biden from the newly elected leader of Ukraine on July 25, the CIA officer behind the whistleblower report moved swiftly behind the scenes to assemble material from at least a half-dozen highly placed — and equally dismayed — U.S. officials.

He wove their accounts with other painstakingly gathered material on everything from the intervention of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship to alleged efforts by American diplomats sent to Kiev and attorneys in the Office of the White House Counsel to contain or suppress the accruing damage.

On Aug. 12, he delivered his document — a nine-page version of which was made public on Thursday — to the intelligence community’s inspector general, triggering an almost immediate clash between the executive branch and Congress.

[…]

“In the course of my official duties,” the whistleblower writes in the first sentence of his complaint, he learned that “the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

The file goes on to bolster that contention with specific language that matches the since-released White House summary of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president and points to other potential witnesses and grave allegations.

“Whistleblower painstakingly gathered material and almost single-handedly set impeachment in motion”

I’m not sure this phone call is even in my top five reasons to be outraged by Trump’s corrupt use of his office but it’s perhaps the easiest to follow. It’s a discrete action, committed by Trump directly, and not only captured on video but admitted to by Trump and his latest incompetent fixer, Rudy Giuliani.

The tide seems to have quickly turned. Several new polls show a significant swing towards public support for impeachment.

POLITICO:

Voters are now evenly split on whether Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, a marked increase in support for impeachment, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

The poll, which began after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her support for impeachment proceedings on Tuesday, shows 43 percent of voters think Congress should begin the process of impeachment, while an equal number of poll respondents say Congress shouldn’t begin impeachment proceedings. Another 13 percent of voters are undecided.

[…]

Support for impeachment is up 7 points from the previous poll, which was conducted last Friday through Sunday. In that survey, only 36 percent of voters supported starting impeachment proceedings, while 49 percent opposed them.

Among Democratic voters, support for impeachment proceedings has increased 13 points, from 66 percent in the previous poll, to 79 percent now.

But, according to Morning Consult vice president Tyler Sinclair, support has also ticked up among other voters.

“As more information has emerged about whistleblower allegations against President Trump, support for impeachment proceedings has grown to its highest point since the beginning of the summer,” Sinclair said. “This week’s news cycle had a significant impact on Republicans and independents, giving credibility to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. Up from 5 percent last week, 10 percent of Republicans now support beginning impeachment proceedings, while support among independents has reached 39 percent.”

—“Support for impeachment jumps in new poll”

We see similar results in fresh polling by NPR:

Americans are split, 49%-46%, on whether they approve of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and independents at this point are not on board, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll finds.

[…]

Americans are also split on whether the impeachment inquiry is a serious matter (50%) or just politics (48%) and whether it’s worth going through with if the Senate doesn’t convict and Trump gets to stay in office. By a 2-point margin, 49%-47%, they say it’s not worth it.

Important for Democrats, half of independents disapprove (50%) of the impeachment inquiry and don’t think it’s worth it if the Senate doesn’t convict (52%). People who live in the suburbs, whom Democrats relied on for support in the 2018 midterms to take back the House, are largely split on each of those questions.

On the impeachment inquiry, 48% of those living in the suburbs approve, while 49% disapprove. And on whether it’s worth it, they divide evenly, 49%-49%.

—“Poll: Americans Split on House Impeachment Inquiry”

Business Insider has similar numbers. Ditto YouGov. The latter is interesting because it asks the question slightly differently, finding that “55 percent of Americans said they would support impeachment if it’s confirmed that Trump did suspend aid in order to convince Ukrainian officials to investigate” [emphasis mine]. Given that this seems to have subsequently been confirmed, it’s bad news for the President. And, asked that way, a much larger chunk of self-identified Republicans—a group that excludes those of us who’ve already left the party out of disgust over Trump—are prepared to jump ship:

In this survey, which was conducted before Speaker Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry, Democrats (76%) were especially likely to say that they would support impeachment if it turns out that Trump did suspend military aid to Ukraine to push them to investigate. About half (51%) of independents and nearly one-third (32%) of Republicans agree.

A larger number of Republicans (49%) say they would oppose impeachment. Three in 10 independents and 13 percent of Democrats would also oppose the move. Overall, about one quarter (26%) of the country would oppose Trump’s impeachment if he did do what he has been accused of. One in five (19%) doesn’t know whether they would support or oppose impeachment in this case.

—“Most Americans support impeachment if Trump pressured Ukraine”

Granting that people who still identify as Republican at this point are likely to be very hard to persuade even with the evidence right in front of them, this is nonetheless a sea change.

We’re seeing signs that this is also impacting Senate Republicans, who would ultimately have to vote in substantial numbers to remove Trump from office.

Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake made a bold claim on Thursday when he said “at least 35” GOP senators would privately vote for President Trump’s impeachment.

Appearing at the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival, Flake, a frequent critic of the president, offered his own reaction and predicted that close to three dozen Republican senators would back impeachment.

“I heard someone say if there were a private vote there would be 30 Republican votes. That’s not true,” Flake said during a Q&A. “There would be at least 35.”

—Fox News, “Jeff Flake says ‘at least 35’ Republican senators would privately vote to impeach Trump”

Granting that impeachment would require public voting and that claiming something in private takes zero courage, this should be a worrisome sign for Trump. One imagines that a large number of Senate Republicans have chafed at having to carry his water for so long and would welcome the change to get rid of him if they believe they won’t be punished by voters for so doing.

Already, two Republican governors—granted, representing very blue states—have said the impeachment inquiry is warranted.

Given that the polling predates the release of the whistleblower report, the audio of Trump’s conversation, testimony before Congress yesterday, and other developments in this fast-moving story, I think these polls likely understate the trouble Trump is in.

Nancy Pelosi, who has steadfastly opposed impeachment hearings as political suicide for her party has reversed course. She is nothing if not a shrewd vote-counter. I suspect impeachment is a foregone conclusion.

I still believe removal is an uphill fight and ultimately unlikely. But things are moving fast in that direction.

Ironically, a major obstacle to that outcome is that Vice President Mike Pence may well be implicated in the same scandal. While I still have enough optimism in our system and my erstwhile co-partisans to think it possible that they would do the right thing if the outcome were President Pence and a chance at a non-Trump nominee in 2020, there’s simply no way they would vote to hand the White House to Nancy Pelosi—which is what would happen if both Pence and Trump were removed, owing to a bizarre line of succession.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Impeachment, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. drj says:

    Ironically, a major obstacle to that outcome is that Vice President Mike Pence may well be implicated in the same scandal.

    We’re talking about an (at least) months-long effort to get dirt on Biden with the White House, DOJ, and State all involved.

    This is not an easily containable scandal. Realistically speaking, we’re looking at dozens of indictments. And considering all the other blatantly corrupt stuff going on, people are going to spill the beans on other things in order to escape the heat.

    I strongly suspect the “let’s-get-rid-of-Trump-and-forget-about-the-rest” crowd is going to reconsider real quick, even regardless of Pence’s involvement.

    The rot goes so deep, they might end up kneecapping the GOP for a generation.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    @drj: Honestly, I’m thinking this is reasonably containable. That is, while there are surely a number of other players implicated, it’s unlikely to deeply harm the GOP because so many normal Republicans were either shunned by or refused to work for Trump. Indeed, part of the reason this is such a big mess is that it’s complete Amateur Hour.

    Beyond that, neither Watergate nor Iran-Contra did all that much permanent damage to the GOP. Nor, for that matter, Vietnam to the Democrats.

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  3. mattbernius says:

    Ironically, a major obstacle to that outcome is that Vice President Mike Pence may well be implicated in the same scandal.

    There is a theory that Trump keeps bringing up Pence’s discussions with the Ukrainians for exactly this reason.

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  4. drj says:

    @James Joyner:

    it’s unlikely to deeply harm the GOP because so many normal Republicans were either shunned by or refused to work for Trump.

    Perhaps you are right, but the obsequiousness of Congressional Republicans has been a sight to behold.

    Not sure who the “normal Republicans” are, if not them.

    Also, while I never liked Reagan, not everything about his administration was corrupt (obviously). But with Trump, once the lid comes off…

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  5. MarkedMan says:

    Supposedly Republicans had convinced themselves that it was okay to ignore the Mueller Report because all of the Trump team’s bad actions had their origins in his campaign, which was run by a bunch of neophytes and losers. The thinking went that if Trump could get that behind him nothing like it could occur again because of the constraints imposed by the office and the people surrounding him.

    This phone call took place the day after the Mueller report came out. If Republicans are considering fire carrying him to safety again, they should ask themselves what he will do the day after that.

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  6. James Joyner says:

    @drj:

    Perhaps you are right, but the obsequiousness of Congressional Republicans has been a sight to behold.

    Not sure who the “normal Republicans” are, if not them.

    Oh, we’re in agreement there. But I think the same fecklessness would allow them to turn on him if the polls persuade them it’s politically popular. The damage from that would be short-term so long as they didn’t continue backing him to the hilt.

    I’m talking about the actual criminal connections within Team Trump. I think those are relatively contained, although we could certainly find out otherwise.

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  7. Teve says:
  8. Eb says:

    There is also something to consider that gop senators up in 2020 may behave differently than the ones up after that. Political memories are short lived. And if a new dem pres wins in 2020, the pendulum should be swinging back the other way in 2022.

    Some of those senators might calculate that primary voters will have moved on past trump by then and are sick of him being a giant anchor on the entire party.

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  9. KM says:

    Ironically, a major obstacle to that outcome is that Vice President Mike Pence may well be implicated in the same scandal.

    Not ironic, part of the plan. Dave Chappelle during one of his skits noted that if he was ever elected President, his VP would be a Mexican named Santiago who’d open the border in a heartbeat to deter assassin attempts. If Trump and Co had any brain cells between them, they’d make sure Pence was just as dirty so that when impeachment came, they could say “WTF GOP you want President Pelosi? Cuz this is how you get President Pelosi!” That’s the Machiavellian way – force a choice between power and principles, knowing power will win every time.
    Moreover, that’s the mob’s way so nobody rats without putting their own ass on the line.

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  10. Teve says:

    I just downvoted my own post because spell check fucked it up. Stupid Teve. Get a Brain, Moran.

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  11. Jen says:

    @KM:

    […] they’d make sure Pence was just as dirty so that when impeachment came, they could say “WTF GOP you want President Pelosi? Cuz this is how you get President Pelosi!”

    This is exactly what I thought when I heard Trump pull out that line of “you’ll want to check VP Pence’s phone calls too!” line. This is 100% the line of thinking, probably via Lewandowski.

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  12. gVOR08 says:

    They have the Agnew option. Get rid of Pence first and appoint some supposedly moderate GOP as veep before they dump Trump.

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  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “If Trump and Co had any brain cells between them…”
    As the saying goes, “well then, this is your lucky day.”

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  14. CSK says:

    @Teve: I was hoping you could tell is what “Steve been comments” means.

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  15. charon says:

    Pelosi on Morning Joe saying will move fast, looking for impeachment vote by end October.

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  16. Kathy says:

    Keep in mind impeachment and removal are not only political, but also driven largely by choice. That is, there’s no duty for the House to impeach if they choose, for whatever reason, not to impeach.

    What this means is the Democrats can cut a deal with the GOP: remove Trump(*) and we’ll leave your boy Pence alone for the remainder of this term, especially if he testifies against Trump.

    I think, though I’m not sure, Pence, once he ascends to the presidency, can appoint a Vice President for the remainder of the term. I’m pretty sure Ford appointed one.

    Now, El Cheeto will not only not go quietly, but will rave and rant and thunder and hurl his feces at all Republicans who vote for his removal until three days after his physical death; and might leave all his money (if any) to a fund that will use it to keep blasting these traitors in the Senate. You may have noticed he can be a tad overly vindictive.

    I’m saying this even if Pence promises on a stack of Bibles to issue him, his spawn, his spawn in law, and anyone else he cares to name, a full and broad pardon.

    (*) Or get him to resign. A resignation a la Nixon would probably be best for the country long term. But given what Dennison is like, this may be the least likely scenario.

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  17. CSK says:

    @gVOR08: Nicki Haley?

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  18. charon says:

    @Jen:

    Trump looks like going for Samson in the temple approach. Easy to nail Barr who is up to his ears in misconduct.

    Also, apparently the secret server is hiding Trump consulting with Putin about Ukraine.

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  19. Teve says:

    @CSK: Steve Benen is what I typed, but Android thinks it knows better. 🙂

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  20. mattbernius says:

    @James Joyner:

    Honestly, I’m thinking this is reasonably containable.

    I’m not as sure, unless the Democrats choose to keep it contained. It’s telling how badly Giuliani is already moving towards a scorched earth strategy — clearly demonstrating that if they try to throw him under the bus, he’ll throw State under the bus first.

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  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    You may have noticed he can be a tad overly vindictive.

    Exactly. And once Republicans start speaking against him Trump will forget all about the Democrats. He’ll go in both guns blazing and his hair on fire for his old party.

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  22. charon says:

    @Kathy:

    What this means is the Democrats can cut a deal with the GOP: remove Trump(*) and we’ll leave your boy Pence alone for the remainder of this term, especially if he testifies against Trump.

    Na Ga Hoppen. Emotions running too high, too obviously cynical. Trump’s behaviour is becoming so erratic Dems don’t need to make concessions to motivate GOP to cut their losses on the guy. Especially with Pence also up to his eyebrows in this stuff, and it looks like much much more will come out.

    And, BTW, standard mob boss tactic (e.g., normal Trump behavior) is dirty up the people around him to ensure loyalty.

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  23. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    But given what Dennison is like, this may be the least likely scenario.

    I wouldn’t be so sure. If Mitch offers Trump and his family pardons for him as well as a handshake on no investigation of his business dealings, Trump will take it in a heartbeat.

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  24. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: “As you pointed out Pence knew so they’re going to impeach him too and you’ll get president Pelosi. Do you think president Pelosi is going to pardon you? No. So get Pence to resign, nominate me, the House will go along, then you resign, and I’ll pardon both of you. You’ll be free and clear.”

    -Romney/Cotton/Cruz/Rubio/Huckabee/Who knows, on the phone right now with Trump. 😛

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  25. MarkedMan says:

    @charon:

    Dems don’t need to make concessions to motivate GOP to cut their losses on the guy.

    I wish this were true but I fear it assumes there is a “GOP” capable of acting in its best interests. But there isn’t. Rather, there are 53 Republican Senators who know full well what will happen if they are first over the wall. So you have 53 pants-sh*tters who are more than happy to be the 52nd guy over the wall.

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  26. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan:

    If Mitch offers Trump and his family pardons for him as well as a handshake on no investigation of his business dealings, Trump will take it in a heartbeat.

    Not really Mitch’s place to offer this, but I agree. Trump would still, however, be on the hook for any state charges.

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  27. michael reynolds says:

    Pardon, Resign, Flee. That’s been my advice for our criminal president since the beginning. He should pardon everyone, including himself, resign office immediately, and get the hell out of the country because the SDNY is still out there, and an honest IRS may be coming soon, and in any event the congressional investigations and the civil suits will bankrupt him.

    1) Pardon everyone to keep his brats safe.
    2) Give a rambling, hate-filled, incoherent speech blaming liberals and black people and Jews.
    3) GTFO here, and hop a flight to the Philippines.

    The con is blown. Time to run away, run away.

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  28. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    3) GTFO here, and hop a flight to the Philippines.

    That’s a funny way to spell M-O-S-C-O-W 🙂

    But what he will find is that dictators have no use for people without power who make poor bargaining chips.

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  29. michael reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    Putin won’t take him in. Putin understands power.

    I figure the Philippines because Trump has property there, it’s totally corrupt, and we need them (US bases) more than they need us, so the US government would turn a blind eye. He could run to MBS but Mohammed Bone Saw might just get rid of an unwanted guest in the worst possible way, and the Saudis are too weak to be able to show loyalty to their ex-employee.

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  30. Kathy says:

    @charon:

    Na Ga Hoppen. Emotions running too high, too obviously cynical. Trump’s behaviour is becoming so erratic Dems don’t need to make concessions to motivate GOP to cut their losses on the guy.

    Perhaps. there’s little precedent, and it’s not like presidential removal through impeachment is a specialty (though it might become one soon).

    Appearances matter, and how the optics of impeachment develop will also matter. But above all we must keep to the clear goal of booting Trump out.

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  31. Kari Q says:

    You all seem so sure that he’s going to leave office one way or another. I do not share your optimism. His voters won’t turn on him and there are no profiles in courage in today’s GOP.

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  32. Kit says:

    there’s simply no way they would vote to hand the White House to Nancy Pelosi—which is what would happen if both Pence and Trump were removed, owing to a bizarre line of succession.

    I remember speculating months back that a GOP-majority House and Senate probably wouldn’t hesitate to impeach a newly elected Democratic President and Vice President. We would hear voices from the usual quarters telling us that impeachment is a political process and that the Constitution was clear on the matter. And should that day ever come to pass, we will hear that about how the D’s deserve it because they impeached Trump (or at least investigated).

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  33. Scott F. says:

    @mattbernius:
    As much as I see the removal of Trump as the critical objective, for the good of the country the Democrats should NOT make it easy for the Republicans to keep this contained to just The Donald.

    As has been noted at OTB for some time, Trump is not an aberration in Republican governance, but the logical endpoint of a trajectory that started with Gingrich if not earlier. Without GOP complicity, the damage that Trump has done/is doing to institutional norms and American foreign policy would not be possible.

    In no way, shape or form can the removal of Trump be sold by the Republicans as a return to “normalcy.”

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  34. Teve says:

    @Kari Q: I share the sentiment of David Roberts, @drvox, who thinks that after this initial shock the Republicans will snap out of it, remember they have no principles, and solidly side with Trump.

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  35. James Joyner says:

    @Kit:

    I remember speculating months back that a GOP-majority House and Senate probably wouldn’t hesitate to impeach a newly elected Democratic President and Vice President. We would hear voices from the usual quarters telling us that impeachment is a political process and that the Constitution was clear on the matter. And should that day ever come to pass, we will hear that about how the D’s deserve it because they impeached Trump (or at least investigated).

    The envelope on political shenanigans has been continually pushed and expanded. Still, legitimacy is still a thing. Even in authoritarian states, much less democracies. It’s one thing to run out the clock to hold open a Supreme Court seat. That’s bad precedent but ultimately just political hardball. Open theft of the White House? Not going to happen.

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  36. charon says:

    @Kari Q:

    You all seem so sure that he’s going to leave office one way or another. I do not share your optimism. His voters won’t turn on him and there are no profiles in courage in today’s GOP.

    I don’t have a crystal ball either – opinions vary.

    https://twitter.com/JRubinBlogger/status/1177582527869063169

    If Republican senators find polls troubling, he could be right. “Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, a Democratic presidential hopeful, said on Thursday he was convinced that an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump could gain bipartisan support”

    Bear in mind, more people including GOP are realizing how fast the dementia is progressing, with implications.

    What if Fox News decides it’s had enough? Not impossible.

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  37. dmichael says:

    Whoa, people. These comments reflect the classic “getting way ahead of yourself.” They also assume a careful calculation on the part of both Trump (who doesn’t do careful) and the congressional Republicans (who are frightened of losing to a Trumpbot in a primary). Believing anything beyond the initiation of a formal impeachment process is rank speculation. I don’t attribute to Trump any high cognitive functioning. He sees only himself, doesn’t believe he can be wrong and will lash out against anyone who publicly challenges him. Note he released a memo of notes concerning his conversation with Zelensky believing it would clear him and stop the criticism. He now is suggesting the execution of people in the government who may have cooperated with the whistleblower. His recent public appearances reflect a further deterioration in his basic functioning. Advice to Democrats: Give Trump every opportunity to self-destruct and worry about picking up the pieces later.

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  38. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: ” If Mitch offers Trump and his family pardons for him as well as a handshake on no investigation of his business dealings, Trump will take it in a heartbeat.”

    You have a much more positive view of Trump than I do. I believe that if Trump were offered a deal under which he’d walk free with no investigations of his business but Eric, Don Jr and Ivanka were all to be tied to rocks and have their livers torn out every day by giant eagles, he’d offer up Jared as well as long as he could put his name on the rocks.

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  39. MarkedMan says:

    @Kari Q:

    You all seem so sure that he’s going to leave office one way or another.

    Just to be clear, my thoughts about how Trump might leave are sheer daydreaming. Way back in the dark ages when he was first elected I said something to the effect that I don’t see how it can stand but I also don’t see a path for him to leave. I’ve stayed on the horns of that dilemma ever since.

    That said, I truly believe that if Mitch McConnell wanted him gone and made it clear to Trump that he would play hardball, Trump would exchange pardons for resignation. I’m not saying it is likely, but it is really the only way I see him exiting early.

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  40. wr says:

    @charon: “What if Fox News decides it’s had enough? Not impossible.”

    Apparently there’s a great divide at Fox right now over how to deal with Trump — to stick with him or cut him loose. It’s all tied in to Lachlan’s ascendance and a fight for power over there, but Trump is the football. I think it’s Vanity Fair that’s been writing about this…

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  41. charon says:

    @dmichael:

    Advice to Democrats: Give Trump every opportunity to self-destruct and worry about picking up the pieces later.

    That is not Nancy Pelosi’s recent statement about “striking while the iron is hot.”

    His recent public appearances reflect a further deterioration in his basic functioning.

    His dementia is progressing so fast there is no need to “go slow.” It’s why I expect the GOP to turn on him, he is just getting to be just too destructive lashing out.

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  42. charon says:

    @wr:

    It’s all tied in to Lachlan’s ascendance and a fight for power over there, but Trump is the football. I think it’s Vanity Fair that’s been writing about this

    That’s interesting. I recently watched “The Loudest Voice” which is a Showtime docudrama about Roger Ailes. According to Showtime, Roger Ailes was all in behind Trump for President before he came down the escalator in 2015. (Roger Ailes was totally dominant over Fox programming).

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  43. Andy says:

    I’m not sure this phone call is even in my top five reasons to be outraged by Trump’s corrupt use of his office but it’s perhaps the easiest to follow.

    Just curious, but what do you think is worse than this? For me, this is easily and by far the worst thing he’s done in his Presidency.

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  44. JKB says:

    Yeah, if any of this was more than propaganda, the move would be to shelve impeachment and use the information to beat Trump in November 2020.

    Impeachment won’t move many who voted for Trump, except to harden hearts and push toward open conflict. This “whistleblower” is an overt attempt by more in the intelligence community to overthrow a constitutionally elected president. The panopticon is revealing itself.

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  45. Bill says:

    @drj:

    The rot goes so deep, they might end up kneecapping the GOP for a generation.

    It will hurt at once but after Nixon and 1974 the GOP recovered well enough in 1980 to take the Senate and hold it for six years. That could happen too now.

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  46. Kit says:

    @James Joyner:

    The envelope on political shenanigans has been continually pushed

    Shenanigans? Oh those Republican rascals! They’re good boys at heart and mean well. This is just a phase, I’m sure.

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  47. Jen says:

    @JKB:

    Yeah, if any of this was more than propaganda, the move would be to shelve impeachment and use the information to beat Trump in November 2020.

    If you really believe that, you don’t understand the severity of what he’s done. This isn’t some game piece to move around a board, he has violated his oath of office in an egregious manner.

    Impeachment won’t move many who voted for Trump, except to harden hearts and push toward open conflict.

    Impeachments are not conducted to sway voters. They are pursued when someone has violated their oath of office. Your “open conflict” comment is out of line. If Trump supporters think “open conflict” is an option, outside of peaceful protests (emphasis on peaceful), then they need to grow up.

    This “whistleblower” is an overt attempt by more in the intelligence community to overthrow a constitutionally elected president.

    Electing someone constitutionally doesn’t mean that they are allowed to act with impunity once in office. He violated the law, how do you not understand that?

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  48. CSK says:

    @Jen: The whistleblower is a “deep state plant.” Rush Limbaugh and The Conservative Treehouse said so.

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  49. charon says:

    @CSK:

    Deadenders will deadend, at some point you just need to disregard them. These people are a cult, trying to deprogram them is pointless, won’t happen

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  50. wr says:

    @JKB: “This “whistleblower” is an overt attempt by more in the intelligence community to overthrow a constitutionally elected president. ”

    Being “constitutionally elected” doesn’t give you license to break any laws you choose not to follow.

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  51. wr says:

    @Jen: “If you really believe that, you don’t understand the severity of what he’s done.”

    Of course he doesn’t believe that. If the Democrats said it was too close to 2020 to impeach and the goal would be to use the Ukraine thing against Trump in the election, dutiful stooge JKB would be writing “Yeah, if any of this was more than propaganda, the move would be to stop thinking about campaigning and move to impeachment immediately.”

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  52. Kathy says:

    About Pence pardoning Trump and company, it may be harder than it seems.

    When Ford pardoned Nixon, it was for crimes he committed while in office. Given the Mueller report and the Cohen testimony, Trump might need pardoning for crimes committed while campaigning for office, and possibly far more. I think it’s also likely he doesn’t understand the presidential pardon doe not cover state crimes, like those being investigated in NY.

    We know Trump doesn’t react well to criticism, be it accurate or not. I don’t think he would take the humiliation of being removed from office. But a worse humiliation would be to resign, accept a pardon, and then wind up in prison in the end.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing him behind bars. But I’d settle for having him out of the White House ASAP.

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  53. James Joyner says:

    @Andy: Honestly, I think the daily personal corruption is worse, in that it’s not only unconstitutional but much more likely to set new norms. Certainly, the daily outrages at the border—which are actually killing people—is worse. Ditto stealing money from the Defense budget to pay for his idiotic wall. The disastrous JCPOA pullout. The list is long and easy to forget because there’s such a constant flood.

    This one is simple and highly problematic. But it’s really small-scale corruption with limited consequences compared to much of the rest.

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  54. Kathy says:

    I’m optimistic because there’s a clear crime, a smoking gun, and a trail of further evidence.

    Removal is far less certain, but not impossible. I haven’t made a count, but the kinds of GOP Senators who might vote to remove would be:

    1) Those not up for reelection in 2020, in particular those from blue or purple states, more so where Clinton won by a considerable margin.

    2) Some up for reelection 2020, but from blue or purple states, more so where Clinton won by a considerable margin.

    I see these two groups fearing their prospective Democratic opponents more than being primaried out by the deplorable wing of the GOP.

    But this line of reasoning rules out some Democratic Senators up for reelection in 2020, especially from red and purple states, more so where Trump won by a considerable margin. I’m more confident, up to 99.999% of those not up for reelection in 2020, regardless of state color.

    On the other hand, Dennison could spare us all the trouble if he were to go to London, and ask the Queen to prorogue Congress until November 2020 😛

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  55. Gustopher says:

    Mitt Romney is wondering how to simultaneously ingratiate himself with Pence and ensure Pence’s removal.

    If anyone can do it, it’s Multiple Choice Mitt.

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  56. Steve V says:

    I fear if Trump somehow exits this could the next great “lost cause” for 25% to 30% of the electorate.

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  57. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s one thing to run out the clock to hold open a Supreme Court seat. That’s bad precedent but ultimately just political hardball. Open theft of the White House? Not going to happen.

    Your faith is touching, but I fear it’s verging on naivete. You don’t exactly have a great track record the last few years of being aware ahead of time of how low the current R’s can go, and how much their propagandized supporters will go for. You call it out and abhor it, which is great, but if you *still* think Trump supporters would think impeaching a D President and Vice-President so a R Speaker can take over is open theft as opposed to payback/owning the libs/justified to save the country from turning into Venezuela…

    I agree with those saying the key is really Fox and the rest of the echo-sphere. As long as they keep mis-informing people, the Republican party no longer has the spine to go against them. Specifically calling out the Fox Opinion hosts, not the actual Fox News hosts (yes I know most people think they are one and the same but they really aren’t).

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  58. charon says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    ” …not the actual Fox News hosts … ”

    They are semi-informative and pretty much honest, but even the actual hard news coverage is pretty slanted in terms of what stories get covered.

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  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “…there are no profiles in courage in today’s GOP.”
    Fortunately for this particular scenario, profiles in venality will work just fine. Maybe even better. Politics at large has many of those.

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  60. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @charon: I pretty much agree with that. But I also think that you can say with some fairness that a lot of CNN and MSNBC news coverage shows a slant in terms of topics to cover as well. Nor do I think that’s necessarily bad. They are serving different audiences that are interested in different things. The key for me is choosing to stay relatively honest about reality and the news presented. Fox Opinion (Fox & Friends, Hannity, Carlson, Ingraham etc) are nothing but propagandists spreading BS who would be happy working for Goebbels. Even when they accidentally tell the truth they lie or omit the context to make opponents look ludicrously and absurdly bad.

    It’s why I was disappointed Warren elected to NOT go on a Fox town hall. They’ve given their audience such a ridiculous caricature of her that she would come across to most as pleasantly surprising, just like Sanders did when he did his town hall and had the audience cheering his ideas and expressing disappointment with the Fox moderators.

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  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “He violated the law, how do you not understand that?”
    JKB understands it just fine, but this is politics not justice. Being a conservative and a Republican makes this whole travesty just part the big “how it works” story. Even Dr. Joyner used the term “shenanigans” to describe what’s been going since 2015 or so. JKB is simply playing the game.

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  62. mattbernius says:

    I cannot help but note that when the Presidents defenders sludge in, they never address the substance of the complaint or what has been released by the Whitehouse.

    It’s always whataboutism-this or whistleblower that.

    I wonder why they seem to be doing everything they can to avoid discussing the facts in the verified released documents?

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  63. Teve says:

    Tulsi Gabbard just came out in favor of the impeachment inquiry. That’s going to give one of the trolls a sad.

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  64. Kathy says:

    @mattbernius:

    I wonder why they seem to be doing everything they can to avoid discussing the facts in the verified released documents?

    Because they don’t have to meet a legal standard of proof or doubt, but merely to persuade enough of the population to turn against anyone voting for either impeachment or removal.

    It still doesn’t make sense, because eventually the talking points will blow up in their faces. Impeachment will take place. Removal may or may not. But the odds of Dennison winning a second term are slim.

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  65. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: True, but it raised her image in my mind. I still think that she’s a whack job, but I can see that she’s a principled one now.

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  66. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: The worst thing by far is his dropping the ball on Puerto Rico because he is a racist POS. Thousands died because they were brown skinned.

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  67. JKB says:

    @Jen: Electing someone constitutionally doesn’t mean that they are allowed to act with impunity once in office. He violated the law, how do you not understand that?

    You are in a race to impeach before the actual election. If Trump has violated the law, then beating him at the polls shouldn’t be hard. Ultimately, any impeachment must be accepted by the voters or the House and Senate will pay the price and successor will not be seen as legitimate. And what pray tell do you hope to do it Trump is re-elected. Yes, I know there is the provision of banning from office, but his re-election would be an overt refusal by the voters to accept the impeachment. The Congress returning in 2021 would be very different and 2/3rds of the Senate would fear for their jobs over the next 4 years.

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  68. PJ says:

    @charon:

    Pelosi on Morning Joe saying will move fast, looking for impeachment vote by end October.

    And Brexit may happen October 31st.

    Things are going to get very unstable…

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  69. Jen says:

    @JKB:

    I’m going to try and unpack this for you:

    1) Impeachment doesn’t remove the president from office, the Senate tries and convicts or acquits.
    2) IF Trump is removed from office, with a Senate that is as close in numbers as this one is, he is toast–he barely won last time. Do you honestly think that he’s been working hard on expanding his base? (No, he has not.)
    3) If he’s impeached and not convicted by the Senate then yes, the next likely step is the voters of this country–depending, of course, on how the impeachment is structured. I’d like to see Pelosi narrowly structure the impeachment to the Ukraine call violations of the law, but allow any committees investigating other charges continue to build their cases. Let this be the first president who is impeached multiple times. At least they’ll have to include him in the history books that way.
    4)

    “Yes, I know there is the provision of banning from office, but his re-election would be an overt refusal by the voters to accept the impeachment.”

    This is a ridiculous statement. Think about it for a while.

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  70. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    My knowledge of Trollish is sketchy, but I think he’s saying something like: “Stop using the Constitution to justify actions prescribed in the Constitution and just follow the Constitution.”

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  71. DrDaveT says:

    @Andy:

    Just curious, but what do you think is worse than this?

    Worse for the country and/or the future of the Presidency? In no particular order…
    1. The tax cut and resulting deficit explosion
    2. The ongoing atrocity at the southern border
    3. Evisceration of environmental regulation
    4. Pitting the intelligence community against the White House
    5. Normalizing (and making) open calls to jail or assault political opponents
    6. Stealing defense department funds to pay for his erection
    7. Meeting with a hostile foreign leader with no other American present
    8. Eradicating any remaining relationship between political speech and fact
    9. Treating the media as Enemies of the People
    10. Appointing Justice Kavanaugh

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  72. Teve says:

    He’s got an IRS whistleblower who may detonate soon too.

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  73. charon says:

    Jen Rubin:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/09/27/seven-important-awful-signs-trump/?wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1

    Indeed, it is the muted reaction of Senate Republicans that leads the list of disastrous signs for the president. The assumption that there could never be a vote to remove him or that it would never get Republican votes needs to be rethought.

    A second bad sign for Trump: The polls are already moving in favor of impeachment — and moving fast. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll shows a plurality (49 to 46 percent) favors impeachment, a large bump from April, when 39 percent favored and 53 percent did not. Likewise, the Morning Consult polls shows 43 percent favor and 43 percent oppose impeachment, including a small plurality of independents. These figures are stunning insofar as the rough transcript and whistleblower complaint have been out for only a couple of days

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  74. Jax says:

    @charon: Hahaha….the best part of that was this:
    “Finally, Trump is even less circumspect, disciplined and rational than usual. And why wouldn’t he be? He may well be only the third president impeached and has a shot at being the first removed. Surely he must see the walls closing in and the potential for removal, prosecution and, worst of all for a first-class narcissist, humiliation. He was so thickheaded he didn’t even realize what was incriminating. He was so foolish as to take advice from the equally unhinged Giuliani. There is little doubt he will be regarded as one of the worst if not the worst president in history. As that rolls around in his weary brain, he is likely to become more self-destructive, antagonistic and downright crazy. All of that makes it that much easier for Republicans to abandon him.”

    Not our trolls, though, they’ve drank the kool-aid, and are fully committed.

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  75. Jax says:

    @Teve: I’m not sure I have enough popcorn OR wine stocked up for tonight….NRA, IRS, Volker resigning….

    Saturday Night Live cast members are currently jaw-dropped at all their new material suddenly available.

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  76. An Interested Party says:

    I fear if Trump somehow exits this could the next great “lost cause” for 25% to 30% of the electorate.

    Indeed…the last thing this dipshit should be turned into is a martyr…but considering how often he puts both of his feet in his mouth and the obviously ridiculous defenses that have been used for him, martyrdom seems unlikely…

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  77. An Interested Party says:

    Ok, that was weird…could someone release my comment from moderation please? Thank you…

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  78. charon says:

    We seem to have moved pretty quickly to the bust out phase of Uncle Vladimir’s little investment in American politics.

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