So far, support for the impeachment inquiry is falling directly along party lines with very few exceptions. A notable exception is Mitt Romney, who, regardless your views of his presidential runs, is a more moderate and more principled politician than most. That’s my view, at least. I don’t agree with him on everything, and I felt he came across as robotic, but I do believe he’s at heart an ethical person with a reasonably good moral center. As a fellow Mormon, maybe he just feels more comfortable to me.
But even he’s not fully breaking with the party on this one, and he has really nothing to lose. All he’s saying is that there should be an inquiry. When push comes to shove, it remains to be seen where he shakes out.
There are several potential outcomes to the current impeachment inquiry, and what the actual outcome is will depend on a variety of factors, chiefly including new facts that emerge as people give testimony and public polling on impeachment (politicians in contested areas may be swayed by their constituents’ feelings on the matter), especially if it’s likely to affect their reelection chances. I listened to a Vox podcast (article here) a week ago that went through 9 different impeachment scenarios. The article is worth a read for thoroughness if nothing else, but I’m not going to list all 9 scenarios. The ones I consider most likely right now are:
Trump Impeached by Congress, Senate Acquits. I consider this the most likely scenario of all, that votes will fall directly along party lines with one or two crossing over. Right now, the evidence seems pretty clear that Trump did request that a foreign power (Ukraine) intervene by digging up dirt on what polls are (unfathomably to me) still showing is his only real political rival, Joe Biden. Current polling shows him defeating both Sanders and Warren–Sanders narrowly, Warren by a large margin. Biden is the only Democrat that could squeak a win given the electoral college and the current lay of the land. A smear campaign is not enough without some actual corroborating evidence to convince enough Dems to cool on Biden enough to stay home, or at least, Trump didn’t want to leave it up to chance.
White House transcripts revealed this as did several witnesses on the phone call. The only people who seem to think he didn’t do this are some of his rally-goers who are basing it on his claims that it was a perfect phone call rather than reading what was actually said on the call.
The Senate’s basis for acquittal is still up for grabs, but here are a few:
- It was poor judgment, possibly unethical, but not illegal. (This compares his actions favorably to Watergate in which a crime of breaking and entering was committed).
- The request was improper but because it didn’t happen (aid was not withheld), the request alone is insufficient to impeach.
- It’s done all the time (ergo, not poor judgment), and this is just evidence of Trump “draining the swamp” by going after corruption. Trump would prefer this party line to the first one because he doesn’t want his actions to be criticized. It’s undermined by his dismissal of Ambassador Yovanavich and the actions of Guiliani in Ukraine, all of which are highly unusual and appear suspicious.
- The President doesn’t need to be impeached because there’s an election in a year anyway. This begs the question–when is the right timing to hold POTUS accountable for actions that are unethical?
To date, the lack of bipartisan support for impeachment makes it very likely that it will not make it past the Senate, and the strict party line vote implies to me that nobody is going to be willing to break ranks for whatever reason, no matter what testimony reveals. They might make it a quick vote, or they might make a longer show trial (which Trump will pressure them to avoid), but acquittal is at this time the most likely outcome.
I’d peg this one at 90% likely, and that the Senate will do a fast vote, not even really a sham trial. They will claim that Trump’s actions are above reproach as POTUS, meaning that future presidents will have expanded powers and be even harder to impeach.
Trump not Impeached. I think this is the second most likely scenario, although it seems unlikely as there is ample evidence for the behavior, and only more evidence mounting through testimony. Even the act of refusing to cooperate is evidence of obstruction which implies guilt. But there is some small chance that impeachment is enough of a negative in public perception that Congress backs off or does something lighter like a censure.
I give this one an 8% likelihood.
Senate Impeaches but Does Not Vote to Remove. This feels like it would take a level of party departure nobody in the right is willing to do at this time. The only reason they would is if they feel that the public opinion has turned so much against POTUS that they need to be seen as condemning his actions for their own re-election chances, and so far, I don’t see that happening. I don’t understand it, but Trump’s supporters do seem fully capable of justifying just about any action he takes.
I’m going to go 1.5% on this one. The fact that Trump might Tweet at them is just too scary for these guys to impeach.
Trump Pressured to Resign. To me, this is a very unlikely outcome. Trump can’t abide failure, and in the face of accusations he has consistently denied everything (or in this case, admitted then denied). This outcome presupposes that Trump is capable of being pressured by the party, when all I’ve seen evidence of is that the power dynamic goes completely the other way. The upside of this one, and why the party would be wise to go this route, is that Pence is deeply implicated in the scandal and if Trump were impeached, Pence is likewise culpable and subject to removal. However, if Trump resigned, Pence could theoretically finish his term. The Republicans would only want to do this if they felt Pence could win the 2020 election, and I haven’t seen any polling on this, but honestly I doubt it.
I have to go 0.5% or less on this one. I just don’t think the party has any control on Trump, even if it means the party fractures in his wake.
So what do you think will happen? Are you hearing any discussion of this among your fellow ward members? Where do their sympathies lie?
- Do you think Mormons favor impeachment, censure or do they believe the party line that it’s a sham?
- Would the Mormons you know like a Pres. Pence?
- Will many Mormons break ranks in 2020 and vote for a Democrat? Have these scandals rocked their faith in the Republican party?
- What do you think will happen to the Republican party after Trump?