Whispers about impeachment began to circulate even before Trump had taken the oath of office. But two months into Trump’s presidency, those whispers – and the search for any other possible emergency exit – have grown into an open conversation that has moved well beyond the realm of a Democratic party daydream. “Get ready for impeachment,” an influential, 13-term Democratic congresswoman tweeted after the bombshell FBI announcement.
The Trump-Russia intrigue has produced a flood of speculation as to whether a new Watergate scandal was afoot. That crisis, which began with a break-in at Democratic party offices inside the Watergate hotel in 1972, brought down President Richard Nixon after two years, in the only resignation of an American president yet.
And there are other grounds on which Trump might be removed from the presidency, such as allegedly violating constitutional bans on receiving certain gifts – a problem rooted in the president’s failure to divest from his real estate, hotel and branding businesses.
Can a president be removed without impeachment?
Perhaps. The 25th amendment, ratified in 1967, describes a process by which a president may give away power owing to his or her own disability, and a separate process by which power may be taken from a president owing to disability or inability.
Who’s saying Trump should be impeached?
About 46% of Americans who responded to a Public Policy Polling survey last month, for starters. Public opinion matters because for impeachment to happen, Congress must act, and elected officials sometimes hang their principles on opinion polls.
At least three congressional Democrats have called for impeachment proceedings of some kind.
What might Trump be charged with?
Bonifaz, of the Impeach Trump Now group, argues that Trump’s failure to divest from his businesses has already produced frequent violations of constitutional rules for emoluments, or gifts. Investigations into associations with Russia by Trump or his proxies could conceivably produce some kind of disloyalty charge. Abuse of power? Obstruction of justice? Should Congress get to the point of charging Trump, they may have a buffet of potential charges to choose from.
Elections have consequences. Is this all actually just a fantasy for liberals and conservative purists who cannot accept that Trump won?
Reasons this might not be true include the fact of Trump’s historically low popularity rating at the two-month mark. Trump sits at 37% approval, according to Gallup, a whopping 24 points behind the historical average for first-term presidents. Additionally, he refused to release his tax returns. And his refusal to divest from his businesses as president could lead him into legal hazards that other presidents have avoided.
Maybe progressives and even some conservative purists are suffering from Trump derangement syndrome. But it’s also increasingly possible that politicians from both camps will decide Trump really is unfit for office and begin the impeachment process. We’ll find out.