Recently, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight of the 18 charges levied against him by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Among the charges brought against Manafort were multiple forms of tax evasion and fraud on the federal level. The prosecution exposed Manafort’s decadent lifestyle, one that he paid for by cheating financial institutions and avoiding taxes. Michael Cohen, former Trump lawyer and “fixer”, was also found guilty of similar charges, along with campaign finance violations that point to foreign involvement.
Previously, I’d given up on the possibility of a Trump impeachment. However, now we should pay attention to hints of an impeachment in the works, as a Republican Congress could take this drastic step. Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, indicated that he’ll cooperate with the Robert Mueller-led Special Counsel investigation to receive leniency, and one can bet on Manafort doing the same once the reality of his 80-year prison sentence sinks in. Their cooperation with the Special Counsel investigation hints that impeachment would have tangible benefits for the Republican Party.
If Cohen and Manafort give evidence to Mueller of malfeasance on President Trump’s part, the GOP would be foolish not to impeach the president. They can’t risk supporting a man who has shaken up their platform and forced them to reverse a policy direction they felt comfortable moving towards. This is especially true in terms of policy on trade, citizenship and global security.
Tweets by the president about the economic effects of his impeachment are overstated. In the lead up to former President Clinton’s impeachment, the market dipped but recovered within a few months. An impeachment of President Trump does not mean the capital gains tax will triple, as he wants us to believe. In fact, his protectionist trade policy has consequences that harm the economy, especially for rural constituents and corporate farming donors. Impeachment would give the GOP more license to repeal tariffs, and possibly even outdated legislation which gives the president a dangerous amount of control over tariffs and duties.
Repealing tariffs and outdated legislation would have profound benefits: companies considering moving abroad might remain, and the agriculture sector would be able to increase exports. This would help the GOP keep rural voters, especially where draconian immigration enforcement and punitive tariffs have hurt farmers.
Further, they cannot risk a tin-foil hat defense of the president at a time when blue-state voters, otherwise satisfied with GOP incumbents, could be mobilized to protest-vote against endearing centrist Republicans such as Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts. Refusal to accept debate on impeachment, and consequent opportunities for candidates to support or disavow it, could threaten Republicans in both swing and historically safe districts.
The GOP’s congressional candidates could be facing severe consequences with the Democrats finally getting their act together and nominating appropriate candidates in some winnable southern and mid-western races. Any un-accounted malfeasance could throw crucial moderates into their opponents’ arms.
Though it is clear that Republicans could stand to benefit from impeaching Trump, it is unclear that it will actually happen. Impeachment is a process that requires a two-thirds supermajority of the Senate. The Democratic minority caucus would likely vote for impeachment. There are over a dozen sitting senators in the GOP caucus who were or remain critical of Trump’s actions and policies. For many others, even if Trump is impeached, they already have won their primaries and will face safe general elections.
It is no secret that Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., loathes the president, who has tried to humiliate him on countless occasions. This is not to mention the purely policy-based gulfs between the two.
If he saw an opportunity to win tricky elections, and crown Vice President Mike Pence or another establishment Republican as the prospective 2020 nominee, I believe McConnell would whip his caucus into impeachment. This would render Trump a lame-duck, restricted to feeble Twitter meltdowns by insurmountable veto power.