by Jonathan McGeachen
I hear the word “impeach” getting thrown around by my liberal friends, but I don’t see it happening. I would be a little surprised if Donald Trump were impeached by this Congress, and very surprised if that impeachment led to a conviction.
The Meaning of the Word
First, let’s be clear about the term “impeach.” Impeachment does not mean removal from office. It refers, specifically, to the initiation of the process in the House of Representatives, requiring only a simple majority. A conviction by 2/3 of the Senate is necessary to remove a President from office.
Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House in 1868, but not convicted by the Senate, so he remained President. Same way with Bill Clinton. They were preparing to impeach Nixon before he resigned. And that’s about it. No president has ever been impeached and then convicted.
Current Makeup of The House
There are 435 voting members of the House. A simple majority therefore requires 218 votes. 241 representatives are Republican and 194 are Democrat. Assuming every Democrat voted to impeach, they would still need to flip 24 Republicans in order to achieve their majority.
Current Makeup of the Senate
There are 100 Senators. 67 would make a 2/3 majority, required to convict. 52 Senators are Republican and 48 are Democrat or Democrat-leaning independent. Assuming every Democrat votes to convict, they would need to flip 19 Republicans.
The Risks for Republicans
There’s always a new headline about Trump’s overall poll numbers, but consider: Gallup polls show Donald Trump having a whopping 86% approval rating among Republicans.
These are the voters that Republican Representatives and Senators have to answer to in primaries, and no one else. These voters live in a media environment where any charge against Trump is Fake News, or answerable with a tu quoque, or both. The risk of being branded a traitor, a RINO, and losing one’s seat is tremendous.
The Risks for Democrats
President Mike Pence.
What Would the Substantive, Provable Charges Be?
Not just circumstantial evidence or poor “optics.” I put this last because it matters least; we live in an era when perception is everything. But it’s something to chew on.