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FOCUS: The Trump Impeachment Threat Just Got Real
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=44647"><span class="small">Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair</span></a>   
Saturday, 01 September 2018 10:46

Tracy writes: "With Republican strategists largely resigned to the probability that Democrats will retake the House in November, Donald Trump has begun to voice frustration, and even a note of desperation, regarding what he reportedly calls 'the i-word.'"

Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


The Trump Impeachment Threat Just Got Real

By Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair

01 September 18


A new poll shows that the majority of Americans back Robert Mueller—and nearly half of independent voters support impeachment.

ith Republican strategists largely resigned to the probability that Democrats will retake the House in November, Donald Trump has begun to voice frustration, and even a note of desperation, regarding what he reportedly calls “the i-word.” “I don’t think they can impeach somebody that’s doing a great job,” Trump said Thursday during an Oval Office interview with Bloomberg News, citing his agenda on the economy, trade, and foreign policy. “I’m doing a great job.”

Of course, a strong economy didn’t prevent the impeachment of Bill Clinton, which began as the stock market continued to hit new highs from late 1998 through the beginning of 1999. In fact, the historical parallels are even less favorable for the president. Republicans have held on to the hope that Democrats will take a lesson from their own experience with Clinton, which largely backfired—Clinton’s approval rating soared, and Democrats gained seats in Congress in both 1998 and 2000. But a new poll, conducted in the week following the guilty plea of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen and the conviction of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, suggests a different dynamic today. Trump’s disapproval rating has risen 4 percentage points since the last Washington Post-ABC survey, in April, to 60 percent. More important, approval for the Mueller investigation hit an all-time high, with 63 percent of Americans supporting the special counsel’s probe, according to the poll. These numbers not only suggest that the campaign led by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to discredit Mueller hasn’t gained traction, but that perceived attempts by Trump to interfere in the investigation have hurt his cause.

Those results would seem to argue against the notion that Trump could take more aggressive actions against Mueller without major political blowback. Critically, 64 percent of Americans believe that Trump shouldn’t fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions—including 47 percent of Republicans. Trump once counted Sessions among his top allies. But the former Alabama senator broke any bond he once had with the president when he recused himself from the Russia investigation last year amid pressure from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Trump’s subsequent attempts to bully Sessions into resigning from his post have been interpreted as an indirect attack on the Mueller probe, as it is assumed that a new attorney general would be more accommodating of the president’s efforts to end it.

Whether the Trump White House will pay attention is another matter. Even Republican lawmakers appear to have accepted the firing of Sessions as a foregone conclusion, as Trump has revived his public attacks on his top lawyer in recent weeks. During his interview with Bloomberg, Trump derided Sessions for the Russia probe, which he characterized as an “illegal investigation,” but said the attorney general is safe at least through the midterm elections on November 6. But, arguably, given the widespread support for the A.G., any attempt to oust the head of the Justice Department could prove politically disastrous for Trump—regardless of the timing. According to the poll, 62 percent of Americans believe that Sessions was following the law when he stepped aside from the Russia probe, with a mere 23 percent supporting Trump’s view. And already, a slim, 53 percent majority of Americans already believe that Trump has interfered in the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation in a way that amounts to obstruction of justice. Firing Sessions to make room for a “loyalist” to lead the inquiry is unlikely to be interpreted as anything other than further interference by many voters.

If Trump fires Sessions after the midterms, and Democrats retake the House, it could be the spark that lights the impeachment fuse. This is, of course, a possibility the Republican Party and Trump allies have warned against. Aside from Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer and a handful of Democrats in Congress, the narrative that the 2018 midterms will serve as a referendum on Trump’s impeachment has primarily been driven by the Republican Party as it grapples with the possibility of a blue wave this fall. “The idea of an impeachment is, frankly, a sad attempt by Democrats,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a White House briefing earlier this month, disregarding the pressure from Democratic leadership on rank-and-file lawmakers not to discuss impeachment. “It’s the only message they seem to have going into the midterms.”

But it’s not just Democrats who support booting Trump from office. Yes, a whopping 75 percent of Democrats strongly support impeaching Trump. But according to the poll, 49 percent of independent voters and 15 percent of Republican voters also strongly support Congress starting impeachment proceedings against Trump. When you include individuals who somewhat support Congress beginning impeachment proceedings against Trump, there is a majority support across party lines. In other words, depending on the way the electoral winds blow in November, what Republican Party leadership has sought to cast as a Democratic fantasy could become a painful reality for Trump with widespread support—even if he doesn’t fire Sessions.

The extent to which Trump understands the threat of impeachment is unclear. On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that Trump has at least broached the topic with his advisers and legal team. But Trump allies are reportedly concerned that the president and his top White House advisers aren’t prepared for the political storm brewing. “Winter is coming,” as one Trump ally in close communication with the White House told the Post. “Assuming Democrats win the House, which we all believe is a very strong likelihood, the White House will be under siege. But it’s like tumbleweeds rolling down the halls over there. Nobody’s prepared for war.”

Come November, how the stock market is doing might be the furthest thing from Trump’s mind.


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+95 # wilhelmscream 2018-09-01 11:35
The sooner, the better when Trump is OUT of the WH 4good.
 
 
+23 # ddd-rrr 2018-09-01 13:30
Yes, but then there is Pence (to understate, NOT a "gem"), temporarily followed
by Ryan -- unless the Dems gain the leadership of the House.
 
 
+11 # futhark 2018-09-01 21:29
Impeachment is contingent on Democratic control of the House. Impeachment also signals to future chief executives that they can be held accountable to the government for misconduct. Even Mike Pence should be able to understand that.
 
 
+7 # jackox 2018-09-03 09:09
Mueller has plenty on Pence- he was complicit with the Russians- He ran the transition into the White House- Honestly- why don't commenters know and say this?
 
 
+29 # MainStreetMentor 2018-09-01 15:26
I fully support ANY legal means which will result in Donald J Trump's removal from office.
 
 
+12 # elizabethblock 2018-09-01 15:33
Hell no. You want President PENCE?
 
 
+8 # Dave_s Not Here 2018-09-01 19:43
The BEST reason not to impeach Trump is Pence waiting in the wings. Do you really want the God Squad in the driver's seat?
 
 
+15 # Glen 2018-09-02 06:44
Most people don't have a clue who Pence is or what he believes or that he believes what he would have the right to do if president. His religion is aggressive and unforgiving.
 
 
+3 # OrlandoDFree 2018-09-02 11:06
So what's the message here? The way to get away with high crimes and misdemeanors is to choose a wacky running mate? President Pence won't have any political capital to actually accomplish much. And he has no record of assaulting women, or selling out his country to foreign adversaries. I'll take that, and protecting the Constitution, over Trump every day.
 
 
+4 # Glen 2018-09-03 07:38
The message is that we really don't know how much power Pence has behind him. We DO know he is a fanatic and has a very religious following. It is the ole catch 22 right now. Trump is a known criminal, Pence is waiting in the wings with an agenda of his own. If he has no power then he will be overwhelmed by the thugs in Washington who just might be able to use his office for crimes beyond Trumps.
 
 
-20 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-01 13:20
I think this is right. The momentum for impeachment is growing. It will be the central issue for the democratic party congressional campaigns for November. It is really no wonder at all. Polls tend to reflect media coverage. People think in the ways they are told to think. The impeachment theme has been massively played in the major media. Consent is being manufactured right before our eyes.

So far, if the case against Trump were presented to a rational and independent minded jury, the charges against him would fail. There is just no evidence. The convictions of Manafort had nothing to do with Trump or his campaign. The plea by Cohen had nothing to do with Trump. The media, as above, is suggesting they were about Trump but that is false.

A rational person would separate Trump's bad policies from criminal activities. Trump is guilty of many bad policies, but in fact he is no worse than W. Bush or Obama. His style is different. Trump acts like a con-man and a bully. Obama was a consummate ass-licker. Bush was a drunk frat-boy. All of those are repugnant but none are criminal.

All depends on the Nov. elections. I expect the major media and the Mueller Probe to go all out for the Blue Wave. If it happens, chances are good Trump will be impeached. But it is a gamble. It could fail or backfire.

Personally, I only want true progressives or democratic socialists to win. I hope there will be a majority of demos in the House and the socialists are super strong
 
 
+4 # Benign Observer 2018-09-02 06:01
I hope the Third Wayer Seth Moulton candidates, mainly ex-intel and military, LOSE and the progressives they've 'allowed' in deep red districts WIN.

A few early results indicate there might be some progressive wins in red districts. Now THAT would be interesting. It would mean that even though it's the Democratic establishment that wants to appeal to moderate Republicans it's progressives who actually attract their votes.

At which point I expect the NYT and WaPo will tell us appealing to Republicans is a Russian plot and Facebook will take down Bernie Sanders' accounts.
 
 
+16 # OrlandoDFree 2018-09-02 11:11
As much as I would like to see the president impeached, I think the Democrats would be wise to avoid talking about impeachment on the campaign Trail. The Democrats need a positive message. And Mueller has already told us that he won't be issuing any reports until after the election. This is probably good, because it will force the Democrats to come up with a more positive message than just a promise of impeachment.
 
 
0 # pushingforpeace 2018-09-03 17:17
I agree with you 100%, Rodion. The USA needs to catch up with Canada and W. Europe - even Costa Rica, with its enlightened environmental policies!!!
 
 
+12 # Sweetgum 2018-09-01 13:21
The only problem with impeachment is what will fill the void. Trump is a loose cannon. Pense has an agenda as well as the discipline and ability to institute his goals. Better to ride out 2 more years with a lame duck who (hopefully) will be emasculated by a democratic congress, than to get somebody in there with the focus to create damage
 
 
+8 # Citizen Mike 2018-09-01 14:03
He will resign as Nixon did, in the face of impeachment, but announcing that his retreat is a kind of victory, that he succeeded in repairing a broken America and the public does not understand or appreciate his greatness. "You'll be sorry you did not support me and allow me to continue my great work." Pence will give him a blanket pardon. He will leave the US and go into foreign exile.
 
 
+7 # lfeuille 2018-09-01 20:02
That would be the best outcome but he might just be contrary enough to stay and fight.
 
 
+19 # Porfiry 2018-09-01 16:04
We must wait for incontrovertibl e proof of "high crimes and misdemeanors." The proof has to be able to withstand any attempt to twist or obfuscate it. Just wait. It will come.
 
 
+4 # lfeuille 2018-09-01 20:04
We already have that for obstruction of justice. It is a crime in itself even if the underlying investigation goes nowhere and what's more it is a crime that is inexcusable in a president. What we don't have is a congress willing to act.
 
 
+8 # hereandnow 2018-09-02 01:16
Could happen, but then I don't want to hear any crying and weeping when Prsident Pence turns out to be many times worse than Trump could ever have imagined to be.
As the old adage goes, be careful what you wish for as it may come to pass.
Trump is who he is, always has been, actually no surprise there. It's what lays in wait when and if Mike Pence gets his Holy Hands on power that will put the fear of God in all of us as he is, in my opinion, capable of starting a real war whereas Trump is a businessman and plays both good cop, bad cop to try and get a better deal. Pence is Holy Cop who, as far as I can suss it out, would use the tool of war if "God" told him to.
 
 
+21 # Benign Observer 2018-09-02 06:02
The best plan is NOT to put a dangerous Mike Pence in the Oval Office but to win at least one chamber of Congress in order to shut Trump down. Then we babysit him for two years and win the damn presidency.

THAT should be the fucking plan.
 
 
-19 # Cowboy 45 2018-09-02 10:28
Can one of you on the loony left please explain to me how the Manafort case has anything to do with Trump?
 
 
+2 # TwainPatriot 2018-09-03 10:58
(disregarding your snide label) The Manafort trial to come will have much to do with Trump and his election campaign. Please note that even before he got convicted in the first trial, his lawyers were trying to negotiate a plea deal on these next charges. So, he may yet plead guilty on charges related to campaign law violations - Trump's campaign - and he may even agree to testify against Trump, or other Trump election officials.
 
 
-1 # jackox 2018-09-03 09:12
Quoting elizabethblock:
Hell no. You want President PENCE?
Are you a Russian Bot? If not- why don't you know that Pence is also complicit with the Kremlin? I am bored by your comment.
 
 
+1 # LionMousePudding 2018-09-03 21:19
"Are you a Russian bot?"

Stupid meaningless question which ALWAYS means "I disagree with you." Say that. Your question does not have the effect you want here: to make others discount what elizabethblock wrote.

"If not- why don't you know that Pence is also complicit with the Kremlin?"

Uhhh you literally, simply, and extremely clearly AGREE with elizabethblock. What exactly are you trying to criticize?

"I am bored by your comment."

First of all, who cares how you feel? It is a big narcissistic of you to think everyone needs to know. I am hungry, hot, and sleepy, but I know those things are not relevant to elizabethblock' s very short comment.

Secondly, obviously boredom caused you to be unable to read, or unable to comprehend, six words, two of which are a name of a person. I am not sure why you chose this comment rather than any other. The sole reason that occurs to me as a feminist is the commenter is apparently female. That may or may not be why you randomly chose this comment out of 10-20 comments, to not read, call the commenter a bot, criticize a completely opposite comment, and explain to us why you did the above: not read it.
 
 
+1 # TwainPatriot 2018-09-03 10:48
If we are to talk a real "plan", it seems to me that we need to remember that the House only impeaches the POTUS (which is to charge him with "high crimes and misdemeanors"), it is up to the Senate to CONVICT the POTUS. With Nixon, there was strong enough bipartisan support for impeachment, in the House, and similar sentiment in the US Senate. Senate Republicans, Orrin Hatch being a leader among them, read the handwriting on the wall, and went to Nixon and told him he'd better resign, because impeachment and conviction was coming. So, Nixon did. The Democrats may take the House this November, but even if they gain a slim majority in the Senate, there won't be enough support for a CONVICTION in the Senate. The political climate is too polarized and few or no Republican Senators would likely vote to oust Donald J Trump, unless there is much more proof of conspiracy with the Russians, or of obstruction of justice than we presently know. So, he could be like Bill Clinton, impeached and NOT convicted, and thereby even strengthened! Let's not have that, please!
 
 
+1 # Paul Bunion 2018-09-03 20:48
Orrin Hatch couldn't have been among them. He didn't get to the Senate till 77, after Nixon resigned in August 74.
 
 
0 # pushingforpeace 2018-09-03 17:29
I think the Dems are such weenies and corporate lackeys that they're waiting and plotting so they can insure their own victories. The few firebrands who stand for something - Bernie, Elizabeth, Barbara Lee, Tulsi ... will keep on fighting all the corruption, the perpetual war on labor rights, the rape of the environment and of other countries, as they always have.