The classic Watergate question has resurfaced repeatedly this week now that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has resigned, leaving unanswered questions about the ties between Russia and the Trump administration: What did the president know, and when did he know it?
The tumult in the White House less than a month into Trump’s presidency has ignited chatter about impeachment. “Gambling houses all over the world are taking in action on whether Trump, inaugurated just last month, will resign or be impeached,” Politico reported on Sunday, before Flynn resigned. “And the odds aren’t as long as you might think.” Irish bookmaker Paddy Power now offers 2/1 odds that Trump will be impeached in his first term, and 4/1 odds that it will happen this year.
That still may be a bad bet. Impeachment would be a heavy lift. Here’s why:
Impeaching a president is a little like indicting someone, except in this case, it requires extraordinary measures:
- A vote for impeachment from the House of Representatives, requiring a supermajority.
- Charges of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” such as such as perjury of oath, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty.
- House members acting like prosecutors on each article of impeachment, present their case to the Senate in a special hearing, presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached and acquitted. Richard Nixon was impeached but resigned before hearings could begin.
An impeachment scenario is unlikely for President Trump unless some unexpected crime is unearthed. There’s also the fact that Republicans hold the majorities in both houses of Congress, so getting that supermajority would be a stretch. Maybe that’s just as well, given the turmoil that would cause for this nation. On the other hand, Trump hasn’t released his tax returns, hasn’t placed his businesses in the equivalent of a blind trust to be managed by another real estate company, and hasn’t apologized to the millions of people he bullied, insulted and stepped on to be the 45th president of the United States.