One Sure Thing: Trump Beats Impeachment

Written by Michael Medved

Despite the public furor surrounding James Comey’s U.S. Senate testimony, there remains only one certainty about the future of the Donald Trump administration: the president will not be forced from office through the Constitutional impeachment process. Pundits and politicos who agitate for using that mechanism to end the Age of Trump ignore history, delude themselves and damage the country.

Only three presidents of the prior 44 have faced serious drives for their impeachment:

Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1974 and Bill Clinton in 1998. All three confronted an awkward political reality that left them vulnerable to the opposition party, with the president’s bitter enemies controlling both houses of Congress.

This meant that critics of the chief executive could get a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote articles of impeachment on a strictly partisan basis, with no reliance on defectors from the president’s own party. That’s precisely what occurred for Johnson and Clinton, and was about to happen with Nixon when he short-circuited the process by resigning his office.

Yet even in Nixon’s case, removal from office wasn’t a sure thing if he had chosen to fight it to the bitter end. The U.S. Constitution requires a two-thirds super-majority of the U.S. Senate to oust a sitting president. In the current situation, that would mean that 19 Republican senators (out of 52) would need to join all 48 or their Democratic and Independent colleagues to drive Trump from the White House.

This mathematical reality raises the most powerful of pertinent questions: in the past, how many senators of the president’s own party have ever voted to remove him from office?

The answer is a perfect zero.

Democrats voted unanimously to protect both their embattled presidents, Johnson and Clinton. In fact, they were joined by seven Republicans who delivered the crucial votes to save Andrew Johnson in 1868, and by five Republicans voting “no” on both articles of impeachment, and turning to turn the crusade against Clinton from a mere failure to an embarrassing bust in 1998.

In Trump’s case, if evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors” looked compelling enough, it’s possible to imagine a few Republican senators turning against him — perhaps as many as five or six. But the Constitution requires that impeachment advocates must recruit at least 19 GOP members of the Senate to their cause for any hope of success — an all but impossible undertaking.

This doesn’t mean that all or even most Senate Republicans would ignore damning evidence and stand by Trump without condemning his behavior. if the special counsel strongly implicates the Trump campaign in violations of the law, Republicans will join their Democratic colleagues in enthusiastic denunciation of such behavior — just as then U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman denounced Clinton in blistering terms for his shameless conduct during the Monica Lewinsky crisis.

But when the senate finally voted on removing Clinton from the office to which he’d twice been elected, Lieberman voted “not guilty,” with all of his Democratic colleagues. GOP senators would find plenty of reason to vote similarly on Trump: he’s a political amateur who didn’t know what he was doing was wrong; he didn’t understand how his subordinates would react to his comments; it all occurred during the campaign and the transition or before his administration was fully staffed, and so forth.

With the White House no doubt hitting back with indictments of “fake news,” “Benedict Arnold Republicans” and efforts of some grand conspiracy to thwart the will of the people, it’s tough to imagine that more than one third of all Senate Republicans will risk alienating the conservative base by voting to seize power from an embattled president.

Facing these brutal political realities, some impeachment advocates nonetheless nurse forlorn fantasies of the Nixon option: inflicting enough humiliation and frustration upon Trump that he’d be willing to resign in disgrace, for the sake of party and country, rather than waging a last-ditch fight to save his presidency.

Can anyone who has followed Trump’s career imagine that he would ever choose such a humble, apologetic course?

In his resignation speech, Nixon acknowledged that “some of my judgments were wrong.” Has Trump ever taken back a single unhinged tweet, let alone expressing regret over major decisions?

Please remember that he’s already officially announced his campaign for re-election, and during the last campaign, he answered questions about his faith by declaring he never asks God for forgiveness. The idea that he would walk away from an impeachment fight isn’t just unlikely, it’s inconceivable.

However heinous or groundless their charges against him, the president’s opponents waste their time and the public’s patience in efforts to prematurely terminate his presidency.

They should wake up from their toxic impeachment day dreams. Let special counsel Robert Mueller will do his job in investigating Trump’s associates, while trying to work with this president for the common good, no matter how appalling his imperfections.

Michael Medved, a member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors, hosts a nationally syndicated radio talk show and is bestselling author of The American Miracle.

This article was originally posted at