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Robert Reich: Trump won’t be impeached until Republicans believe their jobs are in danger

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The question is no longer whether there are grounds to impeach Donald Trump. It is when enough Republicans will put their loyalty to America ahead of their loyalty to their party.

Trump’s statements last week about his firing of former FBI director James Comey provide ample evidence that Trump engaged in an obstruction of justice – a major charge in impeachment proceedings brought against Richard M. Nixon and Bill Clinton.

It’s worth recalling that the illegality underlying Nixon’s impeachment was a burglary at the Watergate complex, while the illegality underlying Clinton’s was lying to a grand jury about sex with an intern in the White House.

Trump’s obstruction is potentially far more serious. It involves an investigation about whether Trump or his aides colluded with Russia in rigging a presidential election – the most direct assault on American democracy in history,

Last Thursday, in an interview with NBC News’s Lester Holt about his firing of Comey, Trump said: “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.” Trump also said that he had pressed Comey during a private dinner to tell him if he was under investigation.

Trump conceded that the ongoing investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election, which includes a probe into the possibility that Moscow was coordinating with the Trump campaign, was one of the factors Trump considered before firing Comey.

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“In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,’ ” Trump said.

The law is reasonably clear. If Trump removed Comey to avoid being investigated, that’s an obstruction of justice – an impeachable offense.

On Friday, Trump tweeted that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

Here, the law is also clear. Seeking to silence, intimidate or even influence someone who is likely to offer evidence in a congressional or criminal proceeding is also an obstruction of justice – and an impeachable offense.

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As a practical matter, though, nothing will happen until a majority of the House decides on bringing a bill of impeachment. Which means, under the present congress, twenty-two Republicans would have to join with House Democrats to put enough pressure on the Speaker of the House to allow such a bill to be considered.

The odds of this occurring in this Congress, under present circumstances, are approximately zero.

So – barring a “smoking gun” that shows Trump’s complicity with Russian operatives in interfering in the 2016 election – Trump’s fate seems to hinge on the midterm elections of 2018.

Those elections are less than eighteen months away. That’s a long time in American politics. Under a Trump presidency, that’s an eternity.

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But there’s another possibility.

In my experience, most elected politicians have two goals – to do what they consider to be the right things for the American public, and to be reelected (not necessarily in that order).

If Trump’s poll numbers continue to plummet – particularly among Republicans and Independents – twenty-two House Republicans may well decide their chances for being reelected are better if they abandon him before the 2018 midterms.

Paul Ryan and the House Republican leadership might make a similar calculation, at least enough to put a bill of impeachment on the table.

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Most House Republicans prefer Vice President Mike Pence to Donald Trump anyway. As one said to me several months ago, “Pence is a predictable conservative. Trump is an unpredictable egomaniac. Most of us are more comfortable with the former.”

There’s a good chance Trump’s polls will continue to fall. First, he’s shown to be his own worst enemy. Even when things are going reasonably well, he seems bizarrely intent on stirring controversy – and saying or tweeting things that get him into trouble.

There’s also a matter of the economy. The expansion that began in 2009 is getting long in the tooth. If history is any guide, we’re due for a slowdown or recession. And justified or not, presidents get blamed when Americans lose jobs.

Donald Trump doesn’t have the character or the temperament to be president of the United States. But this obvious fact isn’t enough to get him fired.

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He’ll be fired when enough Americans decide they can’t abide him anymore.

Then, maybe in an impeachment proceeding, it will come out that Trump did something incredibly stupid – like give a nod of approval to one of his campaign bottom feeders like Roger Stone to tell a Russian operative to go ahead with their plan to interfere in the 2016 election.

The House impeaches. The Senate convicts. That’s the end of Trump.

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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Trump ‘will not leave his office if he narrowly loses in 2020’: Conservative columnist issues dire warning

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President Donald Trump will fight to remain in power regardless of the outcome if the 2020 election is close, a conservative columnist warned on Saturday.

Andrew Sullivan blasted Trump in New York magazine, honing in on the commander-in-chief's lying.

"For Trump, lying is central to his disturbed psyche, and to his success. The brazenness of it unbalances and stupefies sane and adjusted people, thereby constantly giving him an edge and a little breathing space while we try to absorb it, during which he proceeds to the next lie," he wrote.

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‘Veto the Cheato’: Americans gathered nationwide for #ImpeachTrump rallies

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Frustrated Americans on Saturday attended #ImpeachTrump rallies from coast-to-coast.

The rallies were organized by MoveOn, Indivisible, Democracy for America, the Women's March, Credo and other progressive organizations.

Over 140 events were held nationwide.

[caption id="attachment_1513038" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Map of #ImpeachTrump rallies in the contiguous United States.[/caption]

Many attendees took the time to create hand-made protest signs, while others held printed banners.

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Mississippi fast food cashier ‘terminated immediately’ for ugly racist slur on customer’s receipt

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The owner of a fast food restaurant in Mississippi "terminated immediately" an employee after a racist and misogynistic slur of patrons.

When Lex Washington visited Who Dat's Drive-Thru in Oxford with her roommate, the cashier listed them on the receipt as "black b*tches in a silver car."

A manager reportedly refused to apologize at the time, and instead "laughed in her face."

A photo of the receipt then spread on social media.

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