In the tradition of the Clintonometer and the Trump Apocalypse Watch, the Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends, whether by being impeached (and convicted) or by resigning under threat of same.
A lot of stuff has happened in the past 24 hours that could offer some indication of Trump’s odds of leaving office before his term is up.
- The Washington Post reported that Trump was under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller for potential obstruction of justice. It was also reported that Mueller would seek to interview intelligence officials who were reportedly asked by the president to intervene with Comey in the Russia probe.
- Trump lashed out on Twitter seeming to say that the obstruction of justice and Russia investigation was “the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history - led by some very bad and conflicted people!” He later attacked Hillary Clinton for her email scandal, suggested she committed obstruction of justice, and asked: “Why is that Hillary Clintons family and Dems dealings with Russia are not looked at, but my non-dealings are?”
- The Wall Street Journal reported that former deputy director of the NSA Rick Ledgett “wrote a memo documenting a phone call that [NSA Director Mike] Rogers had with Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter. During the call, the president questioned the veracity of the intelligence community’s judgment that Russia had interfered with the election and tried to persuade Mr. Rogers to say there was no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russian officials, they said.”
- Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats met in a classified hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee “to clear up a number of questions” from his public hearing. At that public hearing he would not say what occurred during his conversations with the president about the Russian investigation when he was reportedly asked to intervene in Comey's investigation,.
- A couple days after testifying under oath that he didn’t “believe” he met with any lobbyist for Russia during the 2016 campaign, it was reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had one over for dinner.
- Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee, told Politico he’s discussing adding an obstruction of justice inquiry to his committee’s Russia investigation with the man leading that probe, Rep. Mike Conaway.
- Vice President Mike Pence has hired Richard Cullen of McGuire Woods as his own outside counsel to respond to the Russia probe.
As mentioned, a lot has happened! What could it all mean? Well, if Trump is so livid at Mueller that he will call him a “bad” and “conflicted” person on Twitter, and if Mueller is investigating Trump for an obstruction of justice charge with multiple witnesses and paper trails, and if Trump continues to want to get rid of Mueller as was reported earlier in the week and as his tweets imply, it feels like a matter of time before the president ultimately gives into his urge to try to terminate Mueller and the investigation. That would require he likely fire other people, it seems, including his own deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.
Of course all of this would be a political nuclear bomb, a declaration that Trump feels he is above the law and a further indication that he does so because he has something to hide. So, in a way, the news that Mueller is investigating Trump for obstruction makes it harder for Trump to fire Mueller, while also making a cornered president more likely to do just that.
Where would we go from there? Well, Republicans could choose to uphold the rule of law and either begin impeachment proceedings, or begin a different truly independent investigation. If that doesn’t happen, then it would be entirely up to Democrats to take back the House of Representatives in 2018 in order to try to enforce our Constitution. Such a Democratic victory would be more likely if Mueller is fired, but still not a given. Ultimately if that didn’t happen, then there are some pretty dark scenarios going forward, or just a waiting game until the 2020 election. If it gets to that, you can hope (fingers crossed!) that Russia is not allowed to interfere in any sort of decisive way by a president who reportedly in a call to the NSA “questioned the veracity of the intelligence community’s judgment that Russia had interfered with the [last] election." Again, fingers crossed!
The meter goes up six points to 49 percent.