More Rudy: If Trump were impeached for political reasons, the American people would revolt

By “revolt,” he means “strongly oppose.” He’s not threatening violence if Trump doesn’t get his way politically, I think.

But you never know. You never know.

Rudy’s right that Trump’s almost certainly not getting impeached, even if that’s a bit less certain now than it was before the Cohen-Manafort show on Tuesday. Kyle Smith explains why. For all of their “This is not normal” heat on Trump, Democrats wouldn’t like Pence one bit more.

They think Trump is racist, but they think the Republican party as a whole is racist. They think Trump is misogynist, but they think that of Republicans in general. They think Trump is heartless and cruel, but they thought the same of Mitt Romney. Trump to them is just a normal Republican who doesn’t bother to wear a mask of decency.

Spend a few minutes on Twitter playing up the possibility of a Pence administration, as I did this week, and you’ll see what I mean: No way will the Democrats concede that Pence is at least a normal, stable political figure and would be an improvement over Trump. Democrats find nothing good in any conservative, ever, until he is safely retired or dead. Every Republican president is the worst president ever, until the next one. Moreover, defeating a (normal) incumbent president in a time of peace and prosperity is almost impossible. If Pence became president and immediately restored a sense of normalcy, he’d be much harder to beat than Trump in 2020.

The calculus will change if Mueller comes up with something big on collusion but it’s farcical to think of Bill Clinton’s party trying to oust Trump for not reporting a hush-money payment to a mistress. The best argument for impeachment from the Democratic perspective, in fact, is that it has virtually no chance of succeeding. It’s a costless base-pleasing exercise. The Senate will either be roughly 50/50 next year or Republicans will have padded their majority in November. Whichever it is, Schumer won’t be in the same zip code as the 67 votes he’d need for removal. In which case, House Dems might as well impeach in order to make their voters happy. The Senate could vote it down the same day and the country could finally move on.

Megan McArdle asked an interesting related question yesterday. Imagine that Mueller or the Manhattan U.S. Attorney announces that probable cause exists to believe that the president committed a crime but they can’t indict because he’s the head of the executive branch. A weakened Trump, now formally under a cloud of suspicion, slogs on to 2020 but ends up losing to the Democratic nominee. Question: What does the next president do about the looming indictment of citizen Trump?

Presidents from one party historically don’t go after predecessors from the other party for crimes they’ve allegedly committed. Obama never went after Bush for anything, Trump hasn’t gone after Obama or Hillary for anything notwithstanding the “Lock her up!” chants of 2016. But if the DOJ’s sitting on an indictment and Democratic voters are in a frenzy to see Trump punished for wrongdoings, the new Dem president would face a lot of pressure to see it through. Ford pardoned Nixon for the good of the country, to put Watergate behind it, and some never forgave him for it. And a Dem successor would have certain precedents set by Trump himself to justify pursuing charges. If John Brennan lying to Congress several years ago is grounds for taking away his clearance — because, after all, lying to Congress is serious business — then why should criminal charges against Trump be quashed just because it would further embitter the country politically? That’s serious business too.

I think a new president would decline to go after him despite the left’s pleadings because he/she would want to use the honeymoon period to pass an agenda, not relitigate old battles. But I don’t know. The question’s probably academic anyway: If there’s any chance at all of Trump being charged after leaving office, he’ll pardon himself before he does. And then we’ll have a fun court fight over whether the president can lawfully exercise the pardon power in his own case.

Exit question: What would a midterm wipeout due to Rudy’s calculation that there’ll be a “revolt” if Trump is impeached? I think Republicans will stay firmly on the Trump train through 2020 just because they have no other choice — he’ll be at the top of the ticket in two years so they can’t afford to have him hobbled. Some politicos, though, think that the GOP taking a beating this fall will crack Trump’s aura even among some of his hardcore fans. Having shocked the world in 2016 on a night when Republicans cleaned up all over the country, he can always turn to the argument that, love him or hate him, he’s a winner. Do you want the right to hold off the left? Then he’s your man, because he’s done it before. A blue wave would shatter that narrative. Congressional Republicans wouldn’t be as servile towards him next year, at least for awhile. Some righties might even start looking at Pence as a safer bet for reelection, making impeachment less than a worst-case scenario. We’ll see.

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