The Ukraine scandal has turned many former impeachment skeptics, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, into impeachment proponents. And polling by CNN shows how much support for impeachment has increased with the general public: while only 36% of Americans wanted President Donald Trump impeached and removed from office in March, that number increased to 50% in October and late November. According to presidential historian Douglas Brinkley (who teaches at Rice University), that 50% is terrible for a president who is seeking reelection.
During a November 29 appearance on CNN, Brinkley explained, “Once the vote is taken by Congress to impeach him and he’s wearing the ‘i’ on his chest, you’re going to see that movement grow even more. It tells you he doesn’t have a lot of friends. He’s a base politician. He doesn’t know how to turn this around.”
By “base politician,” Brinkley means that Trump is someone whose support is mainly coming from his hardcore base. Trump is still quite popular among his base, and that CNN poll showed that only 10% of Republicans want him impeached and removed from office.
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When President Bill Clinton faced impeachment in the late 1990s, those who wanted him impeached and removed from office — according to Pew Research Center — never passed 35%. And Clinton had a 73% approval rating when the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach him.
Comparing Clinton and Trump, Brinkley commented, “The charges of corruption (against Trump) are just deep and real. Bill Clinton’s sexual escapades always seemed a tad bit frivolous, and the Starr Report seemed overdone with sexual detail. Clinton kind of became a hero of his own impeachment.”
Trump has often been described as the most corrupt U.S. president since Richard Nixon. But Brinkley goes a step further, saying Trump is the most corrupt since Republican Warren G. Harding — who was elected in 1920 and died in 1923.
“Trump is heading right into a 2020 election,” Brinkley told CNN, “and the Democrats are going to pound on him being kind of a fake president — somebody who’s subpar in his behavior and has been running the most corrupt administration since Warren Harding.”