A popular defense against impeaching Donald Trump has been that it may somehow help him. This has been common among both Democrats and Republicans, even though a lot more of the former group want him impeached and removed from office. The last impeachment effort of a president that came to fruition and stands out in most peoples’ minds, was the one against President Bill Clinton in 1998. At the time, there were a few Republicans who hailed it as payback for Watergate, and it’s likely that the Republican-dominated Congress was hoping things wouldn’t go as far as a trial in the Senate – that Clinton would feel the pressure to resign and give in before it came to a vote.
Things didn’t go according to plan. The Senate vote was never in doubt, with even five Republicans voting against Clinton’s impeachment, and the November midterm elections that year, which are often disastrous for the party occupying the White House for two presidential terms, saw the Democrats split the Senate and pick up five House seats. President Clinton’s approval rating actually rose after the impeachment hearings were over. Both Republican politicians and voters alike have been hoping that Democrats would see 1998 as a blueprint for how things could misfire with impeachment, if not hoping that fate plays out that way for the Democrats should they try to impeach.
There’s a bit of a problem with that outlook, however. Clinton’s impeachment was never a very popular idea to begin with – never getting above 29% support from the American public, who saw Clinton’s affair as a personal matter. At present, upwards of 50% of the American people want to see Donald Trump impeached and removed from office – for crimes that are a bit more serious.
This is also coming after a series of polls that routinely show Trump losing to potential Democratic frontrunners in key states he needs to win, and polls that show Republicans facing an uphill battle in next year’s congressional races – not to mention that the support for impeachment has surged since March when it was 36%. Even the best polls for Trump are much worse than the numbers ever were for Clinton, and the trend is likely to get even worse after the impact of Bill Taylor’s testimony is felt. With poll numbers like these, it’s no wonder Donald Trump is desperately trying to steer the news cycle.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making