It seems like ever since the day President Donald Trump was officially declared the 45th president of the United States, his critics have been demanding impeachment.
His short time in office has been mired in controversy, melodrama, and way too many rambling tweets. But is he simply a controversial leader who’s particularly reviled by certain people — or is he guilty of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” which is what it would take for impeachment proceedings to begin?
Even the most fervent Trump haters agree: He isn’t likely to get impeached anytime soon. Let’s take a quick look at a few reasons why impeachment probably isn’t going to happen, and how Trump has managed to get himself out of trouble in the past.
1. Presidents don’t usually get impeached
Though he’s one of the most contentious presidents in recent history, that doesn’t mean he’s the only unpopular president-elect to assume office. Take the election of 1860 — Abraham Lincoln’s win spurred several states to secede from the country, leading to the nation’s only Civil War. At least it hasn’t come to that (yet).
In the entire history of the U.S. presidency, only two leaders were successfully impeached — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. With odds like that, Trump has a good chance of making it through his entire term without getting impeached.
Next: Impeachment doesn’t always mean removal from office.
2. Impeachment doesn’t necessarily mean removal from office
Some Americans think that impeachment means Trump will have to pack up his bags and head back to his cheesy ’80s penthouse — but that’s not necessarily true.
In fact, neither president who was successfully impeached actually had to leave office. That’s because of how the process works.
The house majority leader must put the impeachment to a vote, and the decision is based on a simple majority of the full chamber. But even if it passed the House, the Senate must also have a trial and convict the president by a two-thirds vote. So while Johnson and Clinton were both technically impeached, the Senate convicted neither, and they both remained in office. Richard Nixon had the best likelihood of removal from office, but he resigned before the proceedings could begin.
Next: Trump’s more likely to be removed by this.
3. He’s more likely to be removed by the 25th Amendment
If Trump were ever removed from office, it most likely wouldn’t be impeachment that got him thrown out.
Republicans and Democrats both question whether Trump is fit to serve as president. The Washington Post reported that his aides treat him like “an unruly toddler who has to be tricked and manipulated into not causing too much damage.” Unstable, impulsive, erratic, unraveling … these words have all been used to describe Trump’s tenure in office.
So it makes sense that those who’d like to see him removed are looking at the 25th Amendment as the means to that end. It states that if the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet find that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”
Though it’s less discussed, this method of removal is much more likely.
Next: The Republicans just aren’t ready.
4. The Republicans aren’t ready to throw him out
Despite personal opinions, the Republican party isn’t willing to publicly denounce Trump just yet. Even if the Republicans were able to help have him kicked out of office either by impeachment or by invoking the 25th Amendment, the repercussions on the party would echo for many years to come.
Trump is the face of the Republican party right now, and in order to maintain the peace, the party needs to deal with his antics for the rest of his term or face the consequences.
Next: These people are just trying to keep their jobs.
5. The representatives are trying to keep their jobs
Impeachment requires members of Congress to vote on the issue, and these are the same men and women who will be up for election eventually. Not only will they face off against their opponents, but they’ll also be battling challengers from their own party in the primaries.
A 2014 Pew Research Center Study found that in off-year elections, the people voting in the Republican primaries were much more conservative than Republicans in general. So it would stand to reason that those voters wouldn’t take too kindly to their elected representatives trying to kick their president out of office.
For that reason alone, Trump probably won’t get impeached, even if Republican congressmen think he should be.
Next: Believe it or not, Trump still has a lot of support.
6. Trump still has a lot of support
According to The Atlantic, Trump’s approval ratings among Republicans, as of November 2017, haven’t dipped below 79% since he took office. Despite all the negative press, a faithful foundation of Trump supporters refuses to be dissuaded by all the negativity surrounding his presidency.
Besides just support from voters, it’s also possible that Trump has a few fans in Washington, even if they aren’t as loud about their feelings as his critics are. Even the politicians who think he’s insane are beholden to the voters if they want to keep their jobs.
Next: Has Trump really broken any laws?
7. He hasn’t technically broken the law
No doubt Trump is a wild card and it’s impossible to predict what he’ll say and do next. He’s been accused of misogyny, sexism, racism, xenophobia, and more. His brash comments are enough to make even his biggest fan cringe a little.
But did he break the law?
Well, maybe. Former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s guilty plea and the whole investigation into the situation with Russia is enough to raise a few eyebrows — including people who are now starting to utter the word, “impeachment.” But until Trump is put to trial and found guilty, it’s all just speculation.
Next: Trump has been good at getting out of tricky situations.
He has been involved in 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades. Here are the most important legal situations he has navigated through.
- What happened: An attempted higher education scheme leads to inquiries for illegal business practices.
We’ll start our list with the most recent and noteworthy, excluding the cases brought against Trump as president. Trump University (actually a seminar) charged roughly $1,500 to $35,000 to students who wanted to learn Trump’s real estate secrets. Students alleged that the seminar used high-pressure, deceptive sales tactics to push them into real estate and business programs.
The settlement involving Trump University ended up costing Trump $25 million, but perhaps the most damage was to his reputation. Billing himself as a successful businessman during his campaign for president, the Trump University fiasco reeked of snake oil.
Next: A government sting leads to legal troubles.
Fair Housing Act violations
- What happened: Trump was accused of racial discrimination.
In 1973, renters in a Brooklyn apartment complex accused Trump of racial bias. His company managed the 39-building complex, and after the government set up a “sting” of sorts, it sued the company. Trump fired back, filing a countersuit for $100 million, which the court threw out. The suit settled in 1975 out of court, and Trump never admitted guilt.
The impact? The series of events was a precursor to accusations of racism and nationalism that followed Trump all the way to the White House.
Next: Trump gets lucky as he settles a $2 million lawsuit.
Trump’s Taj Mahal defamation suit
- What happened: Trump tried to dismiss someone for disagreeing with him.
In 1990, when a business analyst predicted Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City would fail, Trump pushed to have the man, Marvin B. Roffman, dismissed. Roffman sued Trump for $2 million for defamation and eventually settled for $750,000. The lesson here? Trump doesn’t like disloyalty. He’ll go after you if you don’t toe the line.
Next: Casino chips become an illegal loan.
Daddy’s cash infusion
- What happened: Fred Trump gave Donald an illegal loan.
In another highly suspect move given Trump’s “successful businessman” persona, Donald Trump’s father Fred Trump gave one of his son’s hurting casinos a cash infusion. Basically, Fred bought roughly $3.5 million in chips at the Castle Casino in Atlantic City and never cashed them out — a stealthy way to inject cash into the business. To regulators, this amounted to an illegal loan. As a result, the casino received a $65,000 fine.
Next: Trump faces a $125 million sexual harassment suit.
Jill Harth sexual harassment suit
- What happened: Trump was accused of sexual assault.
We all know about Trump’s “grab ’em by the p***y” moment.” But his checkered history with sexual harassment goes way back. In 1997, makeup artist Jill Harth sued him for $125 million after she claimed he groped her, among other things, a few years prior. She recounted the alleged assaults to The Guardian, though she eventually settled for an undisclosed amount.
Additional reporting by Sam Becker.
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