Five Quick Points on Impeachment
Author: Greg Valliere
December 17, 2019
INVESTORS ARE FOCUSING, of course, on the Goldilocks economy — but in Washington it’s all about impeachment, which will reach a crescendo tomorrow night in the House. We haven’t written much about this because the outcome is virtually certain and the markets don’t care, but here are five quick impeachment points:
1. The timetable: The full House will vote to impeach, probably late tomorrow night or early Thursday morning; procedural votes will begin late today. This will set the stage for a Senate trial that will begin in early January and end by mid-February, if not sooner. That’s a crucial few weeks that will tie down four Senators running for president just as the primaries heat up; they will be required to participate as jurors, while Mike Bloomberg, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg will be free to campaign.
2. A circus or a real trial? Republicans are divided — the White House wants a lengthy trial with fireworks and Tweetstorms,while Mitch McConnell wants a quick trial with as little drama as possible. Republicans we’ve talked with are fearful that the evidence against Trump will be overwhelming; their fallback simply will be that Trump’s actions did not rise to the impeachment standard of high crimes and misdemeanors.
3. An intriguing issue will involve defections. There won’t be many in the House; moderate Democrats from districts where Donald Trump is popular have mostly decided to vote for impeachment tomorrow night. In the Senate, perhaps a half dozen Republicans may vote to call witnesses (like John Bolton), which would require only 51 votes. This will become a key issue, with a spotlight on Mitt Romney, but we still don’t see anywhere close to enough GOP defectors to convict Trump (a minimum of 20 would be required in the Senate).
4. Watching the polls. Trump said this weekend that his poll numbers “have gone through the roof,” which — like much of what he says — is untrue. There’s been a slight drop in support for impeachment, especially among political moderates, but over 50% of Americans believe he did something wrong with Ukraine. The country is roughly divided on whether this warrants his removal, and that’s unlikely to change.
5. Changing the subject. Trump is masterful at spinning his narrative, declaring victories. So he will boast about a China trade deal that, ironically, thrilled officials in Beijing, and he can claim credit for massive spending deals that make many Republicans uneasy. These issues have diverted attention from impeachment, and Trump surely will find distractions in January — personnel shakeups, tariffs against Europe, tough talk about North Korea, etc.
BY SPRING THIS WILL BE OVER: Super Tuesday on March 3 will be the next shiny object for the media to over-analyze, and Trump will still be in office. As tomorrow’s drama approaches, we repeat our mantra: if you want Trump out of office, vote him out; impeachment is destined to fail in the Senate.
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