The impeachment trial of Donald Trump is expected to come to an end on Wednesday, and it appears likely the president will be acquitted. During an appearance on MSNBC on Monday, former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said that such a move would give Trump powers of an unprecedented degree, Newsweek reports.
“Anything that Donald Trump does is OK,” Schmidt warned, noting that it’s now in the hands of voters to check Trump’s power at the ballot box in 2020.
“Do we want to have at the head of our country a president? Or do we want to have a king? Do we want to have an emperor?” he asked.
Schmidt later claimed that Trump’s power would be more than any other U.S. president in history.
“At the aftermath of this, when he is acquitted, there will never, ever have been an American president with the power that Donald Trump possesses right now in this moment.”
The 49-year-old strategist is not the only one to suggest that Trump’s acquittal will set a dangerous precedent. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham said that he is now “functionally a monarch” and — echoing Schmidt — claimed that Trump is the most powerful president in history.
Speaking to The Hill, multiple experts and historians expressed similar concerns over the implications that the president’s acquittal would have on future impeachment cases.
Stephen M. Griffin, a Tulane University law professor, believes that much of the influence the decision will have on the future of U.S. politics will hinge on the comments of the GOP senators that decide to let Trump off the hook.
“It depends somewhat on what the Republican senators say when they justify acquitting President Trump,” he said.
Attorney James Robenalt, who is the creator of a continuing legal education class on Watergate, believes that the arguments proposed by Trump’s defense lawyers are what created the greatest danger.
“There is a huge danger that the precedent set will stifle future impeachments,” he said.
For Trump to be removed from office, two-thirds of the Senate must vote in favor of the motion. Newsweek reports that this would require 20 GOP senators to vote along with all 45 Democrats and the upper chamber’s two independents — an unlikely scenario.
As of now, it’s possible that Republican Sen. Mitt Romney — who was in favor of hearing from additional witnesses — will vote to remove the president.
Romney’s vote for witnesses did not come without consequences. The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) uninvited him from this year’s event, which drew criticism from former Republican National Committee (RNC) chair Michael Steele.