There are two ways where Trump could be proven to have committed crimes that would almost impel impeachment. The first concerns Russian interference in the US election and whether Trump solicited it, knew about it or in some way associated with the Russians to influence the result. A special federal prosecutor, Robert Mueller, has been tasked with proving that.
The other is whether Trump used campaign funds to pay for the silence of two women who allege to have had affairs with him and the dissemination of this fact could have affected the election. This case is in a being tried in a New York court, and revolves around the testimony of various government witnesses, including most explosively Trump’s ex-lawyer, whose testimony could prove key in implicating Trump in criminal activities.
The bad news for Trump this week was that these two investigations showed some result. His former campaign manager was convicted on eight counts, and although this does not directly affect Trump, more will be revealed about Trump’s business practices, something else that could undermine him. Michael Cohen was Trump’s lawyer for ten years, has intimate knowledge (backed apparently by evidence) of the president’s business shenanigans. It seems the walls are closing in.
Those who loathe Trump, and he is not one to generate neutral or indifferent sentiment, are elated and feel that perhaps the end of this nightmare is guaranteed at some point sooner rather than later. The president’s wholesale assault on anything Obama accomplished has been alarming and disheartening for those who oppose him.
The president’s ardent admirers, about 40% of the population, scoff at these legal intrigues; in their view, all politicians are corrupt, so if Trump is no different so be it. It matters little to them, even the Evangelicals who profess great piety and condemn homosexuals, whether he cheated on his wife and repeatedly lied about it. He’s a human being, he makes mistakes, they say. And the more the establishment press reveal, the more his supporters are convinced it’s all fake news. His America first, white nationalism has, unfortunately, a very loyal following.
There is a consensus that Trump cannot be indicted as a normal citizen since he could not be judged by a jury. The only way he could be removed from office would be by impeachment, which in the US goes first to the House of Representatives and with a simple majority, it can recommend to the Senate that impeachment proceed. There, it requires a 2/3rds majority.
As the current Congress stands, where Republicans have majorities (a slim one in the Senate). But all that could change because in November, mid-term elections take place and there is a chance the Democrats could win back the legislature, making impeachment proceedings far more likely to be initiated.
The bad news for Trump detractors is that over 80% of Republicans support him, and those within the party who oppose him are afraid to act because it could cause an unravelling of the party. Traditional Republicans are avid free-traders, something Trump is not, and although they like Trump’s repeal of regulation and his tax policy, they are trying to expand the party to make it more inclusive to minorities. Since many Trump supporters are actively hostile to diversity, this chasm could break open completely.
Unless there is a revolt against Trump within Senate Republicans, even if the Democrats win both houses, impeachment is unlikely to succeed. The only way to get rid of Trump would therefore be to vote him out of office in 2020. It is not entirely infeasible that he’d win another election, with the rigged, indirect vote that is American democracy. But with the Democrats inability to put together a message that appeals to the white, working class, he could win by default, as he did the first time.
And that would be a shame.