“Beliefs are hypotheses to be tested, not treasures to be guarded.”
Corruption in the White House isn’t new, but never has it been this bad. At least in modern times.
Tax dodging? Sure.
Lying to investigators? Check.
Obstruction of justice? Probably.
A seditious conspiracy to collude with a hostile foreign power involving multiple members of a presidential administration? Not so much.
The wrongdoing is there.
If you can’t see it, you either haven’t been paying attention, or you’ve been hanging out on the right wing news sites that are special pleading for evidence. It may be hard to connect all the dots through the smoke, but there’s enough heat to know there’s a fire burning in the White House.
Looking at the severity of the Trump Administration’s apparent crimes, I see a strong likelihood that Trump’s tenure will end in the next two years. If he doesn’t resign, he’ll be impeached. As bad as impeachment sounds, we should remember that it only removes an official from office. If Trump resigns, there’s a strong possibility that he’ll face prosecution for money laundering and probably more.
There is little that is certain in politics. We can, however, try to predict events by identifying as many situational factors as possible, remaining intellectually humble, and remaining open to changing our predictions. (There are some rules of the thumb for making intelligent predictions; I won’t belabor them here. If you want to know more, read the book Superforecasting by Philip Tetlock).
Here are the Trump-ending factors as I see them:
- The “high crimes and misdemeanors” are there. And unlike Watergate, there are a lot of people directly involved in colluding with the Russians, which has weakened our national security. There is also a lot of criminal activity to be exposed; Trump has been involved in money laundering for decades. As the criminals are exposed, as the nature and degree of their crimes is revealed, removing Trump from office will be on the minds of many.
- President Trump is already historically unpopular. His poll numbers have been steadily dropping. A portion of his supporters may stick by him, but there won’t be enough people who voted for him to pressure enough Republicans in Congress to oppose impeachment.
- As Speaker Paul Ryan tries to remind everyone, the GOP still has an agenda they want to push through. As a major distraction, Trump is already an impediment to that unpopular agenda. If the GOP continues to press for its agenda, they will eventually want to jettison Trump.
- The 2018 Midterms are a deadline for the Republicans. They could hang on to Congress or take over the Senate, but the chances are not looking good. At the moment, Cook Political Report estimates the chance of Democrats taking over Congress at 50%. Betting on the flip of a coin is not good politics. If Democrats actually take Congress, they could decide on impeachment without the Republicans. If Dems took Congress and the GOP kept control of the Senate, there would be immense pressure on the GOP’s senatorial caucus.
- The Democratic base won’t let up. It is already calling for Trump’s impeachment. Dems don’t have the votes in Congress right now, and the President’s approval rating hasn’t sunk far enough yet, but these calls will increase and intensify. As Diane Feinstein is finding out, the base doesn’t like its officials to be soft on Trump.
If Trump resigns, there will still be a battle over indicting him. Multiple investigations will turn up his money laundering shenanigans, and he could be indicted by the State of New York. If collusion between Trump and the Russians turns out to have happened and there are witnesses, he be facing federal charges for espionage.
If Trump leaves office, Vice President Mike Pence would be next in line. This itself might be problematic. It’s very likely Pence has been involved in the coverup of Michael Flynn’s misdeeds. If the GOP believes that Pence could become president, they might be even more interest in seeing Trump make a quick exit.