There’s a political stream of consciousness that suggests that once a president’s approval rating tanks, Congress is “forced” to consider options, such as removal from office through impeachment. However statistics rule number one dictates that correlation does not imply causation, and it will take more than a low Trump approval rating to create a Trump impeachment.
In 1969, President Nixon enjoyed a 66 percent approval rating, a number that had plummeted to 24 percent by 1974 when Nixon was impeached. But President Nixon was not impeached because he wasn’t liked.
No, Nixon was impeached because Congress passed articles of impeachment on the charges of obstruction of justice, abuse of power by misusing FBI resources, and disobeying subpoena orders. President Nixon’s low approval rating was a function of those articles of impeachment, but the articles of impeachment were not a function of his low approval rating.
A low approval rating for a president is certainly an indicator that the public has a problem with the holder of the office. For Nixon, when it was at 24 percent, it turned out to be an “obstruction of justice” problem. That is what led to his impeachment and ultimate resignation.
A president will not get impeached just because people don’t like him. Every president in the history of time in every country across the globe has had a mass body of the public who did not liked him or her.
Trump is still dealing with a low approval rating today, but it is, thus far, not the single factor that will lead to an unsustainable term for him. There is no guarantee today that Trump will not finish his first term, although it’s not looking good for him.
Like Nixon, many are using the words “obstruction of justice” in relation to Trump, among many others. Two Congress members have filed articles of impeachment against Trump citing obstruction of justice. But the support for those Democrats is slim at this point in history.
What does it take to impeach a president? First and foremost it takes at least one impeachable offense, but even that is not enough to impeach a president. The House Judiciary Committee must pass articles of impeachment, which is a charge that is drafted to begin the process.
An article of impeachment does not guarantee impeachment. It’s similar to being charged with a criminal offense; the office holder is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
In Congress, it is “proven” when the majority passes it in the House, and two-thirds pass it in the Senate. After the articles are filed, the House Judiciary Committee must pass the articles.
Then, impeachment can occur by a majority vote of the House of Representatives, reports the Atlantic. For the impeachment process to continue, the charges then go to the Senate for a trial. The Senate will then organize into a court, and impeachment trials and hearings will be initiated. The chief justice of the United States will preside over the court, and Congress will appoint managers to prosecute the articles of impeachment.
Each article of impeachment will be voted on by the Senate. Impeachment occurs when the Senate votes by two-thirds of participating senators, but even then an impeachment may not occur.
The Senate could vote for an alternative punishment such as censure or disqualification from a future office. A censure is strictly a reprimand or a formal note of disapproval by the Senate. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. is a Republican appointed by George W. Bush and would be the chief justice presiding in this case if Trump impeachment trials occur in the Senate.
No president in the history of America has reached this stage, so it would be an extremely rare circumstance for this to happen. Both President Andrew Johnson and President Clinton were impeached by a majority vote in the House, but both were acquitted by the Senate.
President Nixon resigned before the House could pass a vote on his articles of impeachment.
Trump has had consistently low approval ratings since he took office, and this would certainly be introduced as evidence in an impeachment trial if an impeachment trial were to take place. But the Constitution was designed in such a way that simple outrage would not be enough to remove a president from office.
As noted by Matt Asher, the executive director of the group known as the Loyal Opposition, “Outrage, no matter how sincere and appropriate isn’t a strategy…[impeachment] is neither a quick nor an easy process.”
The United States is not there yet with Trump. However, the ingredients are slowly percolating.
This week, bombshell news erupted in many forms. First, a private meeting between President Trump of the United States of America and President Putin from Russia at the G20. It wasn’t just any private meeting; it was a previously undisclosed meeting.
This was followed up in the week by the ongoing health care crisis. Trump’s response was to “let Obamacare fail.” This is not an option for people who could die without health care, which is millions of men, women, and children in America — Trump’s constituents, the very people he is supposed to be taking care of.
Next, a New York Times interview that was supposed to be a casual conversation about how the president is doing generally and overall in light of obvious stressors to the current White House and Trump Administration. A few slips of Trump’s wording and now the words “presidential pardon” and “fire Mueller” are in the mainstream news.
Mueller is Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor investigating the Trump Russia scandal. During the now famous New York Times chat, Trump mentioned he did not want Robert Mueller to be looking at his finances. Trump was asked if it would be a red-line moment if Mueller looked at his finances.
“I would say yes. I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia. I don’t think we’re under investigation. I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
This, of course, led to immediate headlines from Bloomberg that Robert Mueller was, in fact, looking at Trump’s finances. Bloomberg reported that Mueller is examining “a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates.”
Alleged apartment purchases by Russians from Trump, his SoHo development with Russians, the sale of his Florida mansion to a Russian, and his 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow are specifically the things that Robert Mueller is looking at. Money laundering is also being looked at.
Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, said in an email that examining Trump Russia finances is beyond the scope of the Trump Russia investigation.
To many, it sounds like the president is concerned about what Robert Mueller might find here.
Not long after that headline, the word “presidential pardon” hit mainstream news when the Washington Post reported that Trump was asking around about how to use presidential pardons if he needed to use them on his aides, family members, and anyone else he may be interested in pardoning. USA Today reports that when that came out, Senator Warner of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of the committees investigating Trump, said the following.
“Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections was an attack on our democracy. The possibility that the president is considering pardons at this early stage in these ongoing investigations is extremely disturbing. Pardoning any individuals who may have been involved would be crossing a fundamental line.”
It’s not been a week where the Trump Administration is looking “innocent” of allegations at the center of the Trump Russia scandal that special prosecutor Robert Mueller is investigating. The week was capped off with Newsweek reporting today that Trump’s approval ratings show he’s “now officially the least popular president in American history.”
A Gallup average between April 20 and July 19 has Trump’s approval rating average at 38.8 percent. This ranks him lower than the lowest presidents before him at this stage in his term, even lower than Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Harry Truman, and George W. Bush.
But that’s not the only bad news for the president when it comes to Trump approval ratings. An ABC News/Washington Post poll out before much of this news came out this week had Trump’s approval rating even lower, at 36 percent, with 58 percent disapproving of the president.
When asked if voters thought he was doing a better job than most presidents before him, 38 percent said he was doing much worse. Eleven percent said he was doing somewhat worse, with a net of 50 percent saying he was doing worse. Only 17 percent said he was doing much better, and six percent said he was doing somewhat better.
Worse for Trump is the data that shows 60 percent of voters said they think Russia tried to influence the election. Forty-four percent say Trump benefitted from Russian interference.
Forty-one percent of those Americans believe that the Trump campaigned helped Russia help Trump, and only 14 percent of those American voters polled believe that the Trump campaign did not help Russia help Trump.
Further, 63 percent said it was inappropriate for Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner to meet with a Russian lawyer who alleged she had damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
So the court of public opinion is definitely having a say on how the Trump Administration is handling things. The majority in the court of public opinion does not approve.
Still, the public is not quite at the majority when it comes to support for impeachment. However, more of the public today supports a Trump impeachment than did a Nixon impeachment, as the Inquisitr previously reported.
But even public support coupled with low Trump approval ratings is not enough to lead to Trump impeachment. First, the articles of impeachment must be filed, then the House Judiciary Committee followed by a vote in the full House must undergo their legal process first.
At least two Democrat Congress members have filed articles of impeachment. The Los Angeles Times reports that Democrat Rep. Brad Sherman has filed an article of impeachment on obstruction of justice. This has been co-sponsored by Rep. Al Green of Texas.
The measure specifically refers to Trump seeking to “use his authority to hinder and cause the termination…through threatening and then terminating [former FBI Director] James Comey.” But even many Democrats say it’s premature to be talking articles of impeachment. Here’s Al Green talking about that measure.
Now, with Robert Mueller poking into Trump’s finances, Trump is not pleased. He reportedly has people investigating Mueller to find a conflict of interest that he could use as grounds to fire Mueller. If that happens, it will not look good for Trump, and many Congress members are already investigating the legal processes they would take if Trump fires Mueller.
The March for Truth and the Resistance members opposed to Trump are also organizing a march in protest in the event that Trump fires Mueller.
Although a low Trump approval rating is not enough to get him impeached, it is an indicator of some problems with his presidency. With so much going on, and also in the works, many believe a Trump impeachment is still percolating.
Even so, with a special prosecutor on board and a complex internationally scoped investigation underway, there are still likely many miles to go before the Trump Administration sleeps.
Despite the low Trump approval ratings today, a Trump impeachment is not happening anytime soon. Low approval ratings would only strengthen an impeachment argument, but would not be the cause of an impeachment.
[Feature Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]