‘The people would revolt’: Here are 5 key takeaways from Trump’s latest claim of 'presidential harassment'

‘The people would revolt’: Here are 5 key takeaways from Trump’s latest claim of 'presidential harassment'

As special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation moves along and a new Democratic majority gets ready to take over the House of Representatives in January, the word “impeachment” often comes up in political conservations. 

Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has asserted that if Michael Cohen (confessed felon and Trump’s former personal attorney) made hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal on direct orders from Trump in 2016, it would be an “impeachable offense.” Trump, however, has denied having extramarital affairs with either Daniels or McDougal and maintained that Cohen was acting independently—not on orders from him—if he made any hush money payments two years ago. And when Reuters reporters asked the president about the possibility of impeachment during an oval office interview on December 11, Trump responded that “the people would revolt” if he were impeached. He additionally claimed he would not work with Democrats if they continue to support the speccial counsel investigation and are “going to do presidential harassment.” 

Trump’s “people would revolt” comment indicates that he continues to exaggerate his overall popularity, but at the same time, impeachment proceedings against the president could fire up his hardcore base—even if a lot more bombshells come from Mueller’s probe. 

Here are five takeaways from Trump’s “the people would revolt” comment.

1. Trump is in denial about his low approval ratings

More than a month after the 2018 midterms, Trump’s overall approval is weak: on December 9, he enjoyed 40% approval in Gallup’s tracking poll. In other words, six out of ten Americans disapprove of his performance as president. That 40% is better than President George W. Bush after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when Bush’s approval in the Gallup tracking poll fell to 31%. But it’s hardly stellar. Trump’s approval, according to Gallup, has fluctuated between 35% and 45% since he took office in January 2017. Trump remains an incredibly divisive figure—still popular in white rural America, but wildly unpopular in urban and suburban America.

2. Elections have consequences, including the 2018 midterms

If the 2018 midterms were a referendum on Trump’s job performance—and of course, they were—he was decisively rejected in urban and suburban areas of the U.S. but is still popular among his hardcore base, which tends to be white, older and rural. Republicans increased their majority in the Senate by two seats thanks to heavy white rural turnout, but in the House, Democrats enjoyed a net gain of 40 seats. Elections have consequences, and one of the consequences of the 2018 midterms will be a state of gridlock in Washington, DC in 2019. Democrats will have all kinds of investigative and subpoena powers in the House, but legislatively, Trump still has a fierce, bitterly partisan ally in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

3. Impeachment is still a steep hill for Democrats to climb—especially in the Senate

It remains to be seen what other bombshells will come from Mueller’s probe. Given the special counsel’s tendency to reveal as little information as possible and how redacted the sentencing memos on Paul Manafort (Trump’s former campaign manager) and Michael Cohen were when released on December 7, it’s quite possible that the best is yet to come. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has, so far, been wary of impeachment, stressing that Democrats need to wait until Mueller delivers his final report. But whatever Mueller’s investigation reveals in the weeks ahead, impeachment would be a steep climb for Democrats—especially in the Senate.

4. Impeachment would fire up Trump’s hardcore rural base

In the Senate, the word “bipartisan” has seldom been in McConnell’s vocabulary. McConnell has consistently favored a rally-the-base approach, and the far-right GOP base would “revolt”—to use Trump’s word—if the president were impeached. If enough Democrats voted to impeach Trump in the House, an impeachment trial in the Senate would follow—and the 2019 edition of the Senate will be even more Republican than the 2018 edition. Not one president in U.S. history has been removed from office via the impeachment process; three faced articles of impeachment in the House (Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson), but not one of them was convicted in a Senate trial. 

In August 1974, Nixon resigned from office before a Senate trial could come about. The 1974 Senate, both Democrats and Republicans, probably would have convicted Nixon, but today’s Republicans are much more extreme and way more partisan.

5. Impeachment or not, Trump will face countless investigations in 2019

In the 2018 midterms, Americans voted to replace a GOP-controlled House that is generally hostile to Mueller’s probe with a Democrat-controlled House that will be much more favorable to it—Robert Mueller is one Republican who is very popular among Democrats. And that Democratic House majority will no doubt be launching all kinds of Trump-related investigations in 2019, examining everything from the president’s tax returns to countless matters pertaining to Mueller’s investigation. Even if House Democrats don’t vote to impeach Trump, their investigations, committees and subpoenas will be a never-ending headache for the president in 2019 and 2020.   

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