The cleverest thing I heard during the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign came from Republican commentator Rick Wilson. He was describing the success of Donald Trump to that point by saying, "Donald Trump is like a man who jumped off a hundred story building, has fallen to about the fiftieth floor, and now thinks he can fly." (I can't find an exact transcript of his remark, so forgive me if I paraphrased any of this incorrectly.) Basically he was alleging that gravity still applied to Mr. Trump even if he hadn't felt its full effects yet.
Now obviously Mr. Wilson was operating under the assumption that then-candidate Trump would soon hit the ground in the form of losing to Hillary Clinton by an embarrassing margin. However, since we live on a planet God is punishing for some reason, the former reality-TV star actually won that election. (Oh, in case any of my previous material didn't make it clear, I'm a super-liberal Democrat. The results of 2016 have pushed me to be more open and vocal about it on my microblogging/mass-texting service.) To this day now-president Trump still has the appearance of a man in midair. While for a time we all began to question whether he would ever touch the ground, increasingly it seems as though the pull of gravity will force him to Earth soon. The most obvious downward pressure on the President may be the investigations which many expect to produce evidence of criminal wrongdoing. You also have to consider the political opposition that has risen up like bitchy yeast in the aftermath of the Republicans' 2016 victories. By this time next year the odds are very good President Trump will have to deal with Democrats controlling at least one house of Congress. However I would like to highlight a different force that may cause our POTUS to plummet and on a predictable schedule too: betrayal by Republicans in Congress.
My theory stems from an interview one unnamed Republican member of Congress gave to notable conservative media figure, Erick Erickson. This Congressman (while concealing their exact identity Erickson apparently felt it safe to let us know what kind of genitals this MoC has) contacted his buddy Erick to vent about the frustrations of being a member of Donald Trump's party when he is constantly causing political problems. Some people have taken part in a parlor game to guess this mysterious public servant's identity, but I would rather focus on the content of some of what he said and try to extrapolate from it.
Mr. Erickson begins his story by quoting the unidentified lawmaker as saying,
"If we're going to lose because of him, we might as well impeach the motherf**ker". That certainly raised my eyebrows. The brows reached new heights when I then read that this secretive legislator has gone on television multiple times to defend said motherf**ker. Thus he confirms the suspicion some have that other Republicans in DC hate the man they nominated and elected, even if they won't come right out and say it. That made me wonder if there are a set of conditions in which the members of the President's party on Capitol Hill would ultimately brings the President crashing down.
Thankfully we get an indication of what that might look like later on in Erickson's piece where he provides for the full context for the opening line.
Judiciary is stacked with a bunch of people who can win re-election so long as they don't piss off Trump voters in the primary. But if we get to summer and most of the primaries are over, they just might pull the trigger if the President fires Mueller. The sh*t will hit the fan if that happens and I'd vote to impeach him myself. Most of us would, I think. Hell, all the Democrats would and you only need a majority in the House. If we're going to lose because of him, we might as well impeach the motherf**ker. Take him out with us and let Mike [Pence] take over. At least then we could sleep well at night.He also details the internal strife Congressional Republicans are experiencing, the ramifications of the Democrats expected reclaiming of House of Representatives in the next election, and all the ways President Trump has infuriated him. In all it paints a picture of a President who is much closer to hitting pavement than he might realize. It's really just a question of when, not if, the gravity of the situation become more than he can overcome.
Crucially the concealed Congressman hinges all of his predictions of impeachment on the condition that President Trump fire the special counsel currently investigating him. That is an important caveat to keep in mind as all of my following predictions cannot come to pass with that inciting event. However since it is already something many people are already speculating about, some reasonable parties are preparing for, and that almost happened once already, I think it's fair to treat the attempted termination of the investigation as read.
With that out of the way, let's focus on the meat of this obscured politician's veritable smorgasbord of revelatory comments. He focuses on the House Judiciary Committee as the decisive factor in all of this as they are the folks in Congress who would first consider any articles of impeachment against a sitting president. He predicts they could do this once they no longer need fear reprisal from voters that support Trump. While he vaguely refers to "the summer", we can actually be much more specific than that by working out the exact date when enough committee members will cross that threshold.
We can begin determining the date by defining the threshold. The House Judiciary Committee has 39 member which means for any articles of impeachment to be successfully voted to the full House would require at least 20 votes. Our anonymous official is likely correct that all Democrats (or close enough to make no difference) would vote to impeach President Trump, and they represent 17 votes in Judiciary. That should mean we only need 3 Republican votes, except I doubt it's as simple as that. In the modern House nothing moves with support primarily from the minority party, especially when Republicans control it. Former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, established the "Hastert Rule", which stated simply that a majority of the majority party must support something for it to be voted on. Republicans have typically followed that rule, which would mean at least 11 and preferably 12 of the Republicans on Judiciary would have to be willing to vote for impeachment before we'd see any actual action. So when will 12 members of the committee from the GOP be free from the so-called "Trump base"?
Our next step will be to identify any Members of Congress in this pool of 22 who cannot afford to lose the support of the maybe 25% of voters who are deeply devoted to President Trump. We cannot judge this purely on those who speak in favor of the President publicly as our unnamed elected office holder clearly demonstrates that is no proof of true support. However a few people on this committee have demonstrated a loyalty to Trump, his voters, or his agenda with more than just lip service.
I believe 5 of the 22 are "Trump loyalists" who have gone above and beyond the call of party loyalty. First Rep. Steve King has repeatedly represented himself as a member of the "Trump Base" and certainly shares the President's views on some key issues. Next we can note that Rep. Jim Jordan has not only actively sought to undermine the special counsel, but that he has made some pretty indefensible claims supporting Trump as well. Then we should acknowledge that both Reps. Louie Gohmert and Andy Biggs have called for removing Robert Mueller from the investigation. So they are pretty unlikely to support any impeachment vote resulting from the President doing exactly that. Finally, I would not expect Rep. Matt Gaetz to turn on Donald Trump when they already share so much, including political mentor Roger Stone.
Another 4 committee members may need all the Republican votes they can get for a general election. Two of them, Reps. Karen Handel and Steve Chabot, both face potentially tough races for reelection, according to Cook Political Report. Two other current members are leaving the House as they each run for governor of their respective states. In Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador is leading in the polls over other Republican primary candidates, and Rep. Ron DeSantis is currently enjoying a similar position in Florida. Even if neither of them wins their primary they have clearly shown an interest in higher office suggesting that neither of them would want to upset a large segment of Republican voters.
That leaves 13 of our original 22 a possible votes for impeachment once they are free to vote their conscious. We can list 7 of them as "free" right this moment. Reps. Lamar Smith, Darrell Issa, Ted Poe, and Trey Gowdy are all retiring from Congress and seem to be leaving the worries of pleasing Republican primary voters behind them. More importantly the chair of the committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte is retiring as well. If the chair wasn't willing to hold a vote in committee there would be no chance of impeachment. On top of that we can add Rep. John Ratcliffe who is already past his primary and Doug Collins who has no opponent in his.
Then it's just a matter of looking through the calendar and finding when each of the remaining members is finished with their primary. Whether these incumbents win or lose, they will be past the concern that a faction of Republican voters can end their careers. The 11th member will become "free" on June 27th, before the Sicario sequel hits theaters. If you want to be extra sure the majority of Republicans would be free to vote for impeachment, you could wait until August 15th when Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner who has already voiced his support for the special counsel investigation.
So depending on how events pass we may not have to wait for November, 2020 to see the Trump Presidency come undone. We may not even have to wait for Labor Day. Keep that in mind if you ever find yourself stressed about political news. President Trump may still act like he can fly, but the rest of us know it's only a matter of time before gravity wins.