My Guide to Hamilton’s Guide to 2019

You don't have to be Dr. Strange to figure out where Impeachment talk is going

There's a scene in Infinity War where Dr. Strange looks at all the future scenarios, 14 million or so, and figures out that there's only one that's any good.

Dr-strange-future

I've been doing a bit of that with our current president now that the Mueller Report is out.

As of today, two presidential candidates have said they support impeachment, though Kamala Harris seems to have worded her support somewhat more delicately than Elizabeth Warren.

There are plenty on the left, and even some on the right, who think we should impeach.

Do you think so?

Don't go by what your emotions tell you should be the thing that happens, go by what will happen.

Here are the scenarios that I see, way fewer than 14 million:

Trump Impeached in House, Convicted in the Senate, Removed from Office

This is unlikely because there would have to be about 20 Republicans in the Senate who would vote to remove a sitting president, something that literally has never happened in the history of the United States.

I'll write below about why this is very unlikely, but let's just say in this scenario that it happens.

In that case, Mike Pence becomes the president. Because he wasn't elected president, he'll likely have a primary challenge, and that primary battle will be all about the future of the party. A Sen. Marco Rubio, for example, would be able to say that he is not Trump and has always been his own man, so the election won't be about Trump at all.

Even if Pence survives a primary, he will be his own man on the ticket, and the election won't really be a referendum on Trump, so it will be a more normal election. He'd likely lose, just like Ford did after Watergate, but it wouldn't be historic.

If you are a Republican, this is probably the best case scenario for you.

Trump Impeached in House, but Acquitted in the Senate

If you are thinking, but Trump is so bad! just remember that only a third of the Senate is up for re-election. Of the 53 GOP senators, 22 are facing election. 

In my state of Colorado, one might think that Cory Gardner would vote to convict Trump so as to make his re-election a bit easier, but it may not. It may just bring him a primary that he might not survive. And even if he did, it may just not make any difference as the Democratic field is strong and the voter sentiment seems to have moved against any Republican in Colorado.

But that's Colorado. In other states, voting against a president of your own party just does not happen.

So, Trump emerges from impeachment as someone who was tried and not convicted. It weakens his presidency, but he actually gets a boost from winning in the Senate in the same way that Clinton got a boost when he wasn't convicted. He and his supporters went on to say loudly that all of that was over nothing, and they weren't wrong. Trump and his world will say the exact same thing, and come out stronger.

This is probably the second-best scenario for Republicans.

Trump Investigated, but Never Impeached

In this scenario, the current state remains the case all the way through the election: Hearings. Subpoenas. Contempt citations. On and on and on.

Meanwhile, we hope, there would also be some action on actual legislation, even though not much could pass because of the partisan divide. But holding the hearings and getting bills ready to pass for after the next election is a good way to work out the bugs lurking behind big new ideas.

In that case, Trump is weakened to the point of near irrelevancy. He is the party nominee because he's fixed it that way from the get-go.

But there is almost no enthusiasm for him to actually get elected because people like being on the winning side of history, and a guy who looks like the only reason he wants to win is so that he can keep being immune from prosecution is not exactly campaigning from a strong position.

Trump at the top of the ballot could be a crushing body blow to what remains of the Republican Party.

This is clearly the best-case scenario for Democrats.

It's not fun for Democrats to think about another year and a half of Trump, but it's the medicine we have to take here in this democracy.

What will happen?

Look, I'm as surprised as anyone that Trump is still here. I thought history was on the side of him being gone by last August.

But he's still here.

What do you want to have happen? Play through the scenarios and tell me which one gets you to what you really want.

If you look at it dispassionately, the savior of the Republican Party would be impeachment, and the best thing for Democrats would be to keep Trump in power until Inauguration Day in 2021.