In the wake of a Special Counsel being appointed to investigate Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, we’ve been waiting to see how Trump and his White House would respond, so we can gauge how serious of a problem they think they’re facing. Yesterday came the first hint, with word that Trump’s team was looking to hire outside counsel on his behalf. And today Trump’s White House is signaling that it thinks impeachment is coming.
That’s the word from a new CNN report, which reveals that Donald Trump’s White House is now researching impeachment procedures (link), which is rather obviously a defensive move with the expectation of having to go through an impeachment process. From a legal standpoint, it’s not difficult to understand why Trump’s team would fear impeachment: he committed obstruction of justice by asking FBI Director James Comey to throw the Russia investigation and then firing him for the same reason. And he demonstrated gross negligence by giving classified intel to the Russians. The surprise here may be the political landscape.
For impeachment hearings to begin against Donald Trump in the House of Representatives, a simple majority of votes is required. But with his own Republican Party having the majority, around ten percent of House Republicans would need to join all of the Democrats in voting to begin those hearings. Representative Justin Amash, a Republican from Michigan, has already signaled he sees this as impeachable, but he’s been something of a lonely voice so far among Republicans. However, the White House is betting differently.
This latest response from Trump’s White House is a signal that based on whatever they’re seeing and hearing from House Republicans privately, they think there’s a whole lot more GOP support for impeachment hearings than just Amash. If the Democrats win the House in 2018 they’ll likely begin impeachment immediately. But that alone wouldn’t be a reason for the White House to be hunkering down on impeachment defense now, so this is a sign that Trump’s team thinks the Republicans might actually pull the impeachment trigger.
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