Election 2020

Impeach Trump? Don't Bet On It

Nate Silver, having succeeded so signally in one election (2008) and failed so utterly in another (2016), shows why the year you win your Fantasy League championship you’re a genius and all other years you’re a failure. As Niels Bohr, or Yogi, or somebody famously said: predictions are tough, especially about the future.

After a cacophonous two weeks of political news, a new sound has begun to emerge from Washington: the word “impeachment.” Following the news that President Trump may have tried to bully FBI director James Comey out of investigating Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia, Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent, told CNN that recent allegations, if true, are already making impeachment hearings more likely. Rep. Al Green, a Democrat from Texas, became the first congressman to call for Trump’s impeachment from the House floor. And even some Republicans in blue-leaning districts, such as Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, have begun to entertain impeachment as a possibility.

This might all seem like a liberal fantasy: No president has ever been booted out of the job, and only Richard Nixon resigned under the pressure of the impeachment process.

But people putting money on the line are taking impeachment seriously. According to the prediction market Betfair, the chance that Trump will fail to serve out his four-year term is about 50 percent (!). There’s even a 20 to 25 percent probability (!!) that Trump doesn’t finish out 2017 in office, these bettors reckon.

Last time I looked on the morning of Nov. 8, there was a 99 percent chance of Hillary’s winning, so…

Are those numbers within the realm of reason? It isn’t easy to forecast Trump’s odds of impeachment, or of his removal from office. There isn’t enough data to build a statistical model of it, in the way we would for an election. But we can say that there are two opposite forces tugging strongly on the impeachment rope:

  • On the one side, there’s Trump’s escalating pattern of (alleged) misconduct, which increasingly reflects behavior that has been used as grounds for impeachment in the past.
  • On the other side, there’s the intense partisan loyalty of Republicans, both among GOP members of Congress and among voters in the states and districts they represent.

So long as these sides are pulling with roughly equal force, Trump isn’t going to be removed from office, which would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate. But if something snaps — if Republicans have reason to think Trump has become a liability even in red states — look out. History suggests Trump could be vulnerable under such circumstances, despite the historical rarity of impeachment.

And on and on it goes, if you care to read the whole thing. Yeah, well, you pays your money and you takes your chances. Meanwhile, Conrad Black talks some sense to the lunatic fringe of rabid Democrats, drooling media and cowardly #neverTrumpumpkins:

The tide is going out and the whole collusion nonsense (which Tom Friedman of the New York Times said was as serious as the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks) is now down to dark murmurings about the president’s son-in-law speaking after the election with the Russian ambassador. Jared Kushner has let it be known that the ambassador called him and that he will be happy to testify under oath to any appropriate congressional committee whenever he is asked.

The rubbish about the president disclosing Israeli intelligence to the Russian ambassador was mocked by the Russians and denied by the Israeli prime minister, even as the anti-Trump leakers within the administration strained the alliance with the United Kingdom by releasing MI5 intelligence about the Manchester suicide bomber while the British were still rounding up suspected accomplices.

Neither the president nor his son-in-law evince the slightest concern about the strength of their constitutional and legal positions, and the rather besieged air of the first hundred days White House has faded as the rabid nature of the Schumers and Schiffs has also abated. Speaker Paul Ryan was contemptibly unsupportive, declining two weeks ago “to prejudge” the outcome of the president’s travails, not a hint even of presumption of innocence, but the task now is to pull the Republicans together and get healthcare and tax reform adopted. I still think it was the correct move to put healthcare first, as that can be done with bare majorities, and tax reform will require some Democrats in the Senate. It will be harder for Schumer to sandbag the administration if healthcare is in place and if it means voting against tax cuts for lower and middle income families and all businesses, especially if there are no leaks enflaming the dying embers of the collusion myth as Mueller performs his task.

The Left has overplayed its hand, and now it will suffer the consequences.