While many gambling enthusiasts are putting their money on the Golden State Warriors to sweep the NBA finals or taking their chances on key 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, a growing number of people are opting to take their chances betting on current events in the world of politics, such as whether Donald Trump will manage to finish his entire term as President of the United States. Trump’s impeachment odds surged today in the wake of James Comey’s testimony before congress in which the former FBI director alleged that Donald Trump tried to derail the FBI’s investigation into alleged collusion between members of Trump’s inner circle and Russian operatives.
According to Newsweek, online betting firm Ladbrokes saw a surge in bets after Comey’s testimony, moving Trump’s odds of impeachment or resignation from 4/5 to 4/7, which translates into a 63.6 percent chance that Donald Trump will not make it to 2020 as President of the United States.
And though Las Vegas is a few thousand miles from Washington D.C., it’s a safe bet that the fear and loathing permeating the air of the White House this evening are palpable.
According to the New York Times, James Comey explicitly said during his testimony that Donald Trump was guilty of lying about the circumstances surrounding him being fired as FBI director. Comey also suggested that Trump’s intent was clear regarding whether the President was trying to pressure him into dropping the investigation into former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
“I took it as a direction.” If Trump had had his way, Comey said, “We would have dropped an open criminal investigation.”
The Trump White House responded forcefully to James Comey’s allegations, which some legal experts suggest amount to clear evidence of obstruction of justice having been committed by the President. This would be an offense worthy of impeachment and is the same thing that put Richard Nixon in danger of impeachment before he ultimately resigned to avoid facing impeachment hearings. According to USA Today, an official statement issued by Donald Trump’s lawyer attempted to turn the tables on Comey, suggesting he was in the wrong for “unauthorized disclosures” of private conversations he had with Trump.
Comey’s testimony, attorney Marc Kasowitz said, “makes clear that the president never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election.”
“(James Comey) admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the president,” Kasowitz added.
In typical Washington fashion, both sides are spinning their own opposing narratives, so what one sees as the “truth” most likely depends on one’s overall view of Donald Trump. Trump’s supporters, such as Alex Jones of Infowars, are focusing on Comey’s leaking of information to the press regarding his conversations with Trump, while media outlets who oppose Donald Trump and support his impeachment are focusing on the content of James Comey’s statements and arguing that they equal a gross abuse of power and an attempt to obstruct justice tantamount to that exercised by disgraced President Richard Nixon during the Watergate investigation.
The similarities between the present situation and the Watergate affair are likely a chief influence on the surge in bets from people who think Trump is on his way out as President of the United States. Philip Lacovara, a lawyer who served as counsel to Watergate special prosecutors Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski, added fuel to the fires of speculation surrounding a possible Trump impeachment by publishing an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he claimed there is sufficient evidence for an obstruction of justice case to proceed against President Trump.
Lacovara writes, “Comey’s statement lays out a case against the president that consists of a tidy pattern, beginning with the demand for loyalty, the threat to terminate Comey’s job, the repeated requests to turn off the investigation into Flynn and the final infliction of career punishment for failing to succumb to the president’s requests, all followed by the president’s own concession about his motive. Any experienced prosecutor would see these facts as establishing a prima facie case of obstruction of justice.”
Despite the surge in betting and the expert opinions of people like Lacovara, Trump’s impeachment odds are still subservient to the political reality that the people who will ultimately be in charge of making that decision are members of his own party. For impeachment to succeed, a House simple majority will be needed to pass proceedings to the Senate, where a two-thirds majority vote will be needed for impeachment to go through. The Republicans control both the House and the Senate, and the party is still at least superficially sticking by Trump’s side.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]