Donald Trump’s impeachment prospects are worse than you think

While Donald Trump bragged at his latest hate rally that “only 50%” of Americans want him impeached and removed, CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains what that number really means. People (like Trump) want to twist the number to point out that it hasn’t changed since mid-October even after extremely damaging testimony. As Cillizza notes, Trump is “missing the forest for the trees.”

Half of the country wanting Trump out of office can never be considered good. To show just how important that number is, Cillizza looked at impeachment numbers from other points in presidential history. First, Cillizza points out that while President Bill Clinton was eventually impeached by the House, few members of the public ever wanted him impeached, let alone removed. Support for Clinton’s impeachment peaked at 29%. That number never went higher, even as the Republican-led House searched for reasons to impeach him. When they couldn’t find damning evidence in the Whitewater investigation, they found Linda Tripp, who used her “friendship” with Monica Lewinsky to surreptitiously tape her as she discussed her “affair” with then-President Clinton. Tripp took the tape and ran, and the rest is history.

The House approved Articles of Impeachment against Clinton because he lied about having sex with Lewinsky. So, he was convicted over a lie. If lying were a crime, Trump would have been convicted over 13,000 times by now. As is typical with Republicans, however, they see no wrong in Trump’s actions though they are extremely wrong—way more wrong than anything Bill Clinton ever did. In the case of Clinton, the public knew Republicans were wrong, and that’s why no more than 29% ever agreed with their antics.

The two other presidents for whom polls reflected impeachment were George W. Bush and Barack Obama. No inquiry was ever made into either. In the case of Bush, 30% wanted him impeached and removed while 33% felt the same about Obama. These numbers merely reflect the feelings of the American public in general, according to Cillizza, who, when reviewing impeachment polling over the last two decades, said “30% of the country” is “ready to impeach a president at all times.” What all this boils down to is that Trump has amassed another 20% on top of a usual, historical number. Cillizza also points out that while Clinton, Bush, and Obama were faced with similar impeachment numbers, none of them were up for reelection within that same time period. Trump is, and the bottom line is that a majority of the American public wants “president” Trump gone.

Cillizza wants us to keep in mind that Trump is actually in peril, if not from impeachment itself, then from reelection. Considering that many Americans don’t exercise their right to vote, and 50% are against Trump, it means he is very unlikely to be reelected. Cillizza is asking us to keep our focus on that 50% rather than the fact that the number hasn’t changed. “The 50% number is both astounding and ahistorical.” Have cheer, Resistance. If we can keep our focus and not be misled by numbers alone, we will see a Trump-free White House, whether via impeachment or election defeat.

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