At yesterday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, “The idea of [presidential] impeachment is, frankly, a sad attempt by Democrats. It’s the only message they seem to have going into the midterms.” This was, of course, largely the opposite of the truth.
Congressional Democrats are going out of their way not to include talk of impeachment in their election-year message – Nancy Pelosi again dismissed the idea yesterday as “not a priority” for the party – and Trump isn’t even the focus of most Democratic campaign advertising.
A Washington Post analysis last week explained that much of the Democratic message is policy-focused, with a special emphasis on health care.
Donald Trump, however, seems to be talking about the issue quite a bit. Here’s what the president had to say on the subject in his newest Fox News interview:
“I don’t know how you can impeach somebody who’s done a great job. I’ll tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor. Because without this thinking [points to his head] you would see, you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe in reverse.”
He then transitioned to lying about the economy and reflecting on trade with China.
The specific question Trump was responding to was, “If the Democrats take back power [in Congress], do you believe they will try to impeach you?” At no point in his response did the president make the case that he didn’t do anything wrong.
Perhaps this slipped his mind.
Regardless, let’s unpack some of the more glaring problems with Trump’s strange answer:
* Impeachment has nothing to do with whether the accused is doing “a great job” or not. (That said, Trump is not, in reality, doing a great job.)
* Presidential impeachment does not, in fact, remove a president from office. It’s the political equivalent of an indictment, which initiates a Senate trial. Bill Clinton, for example, was impeached, but he nevertheless served two full terms.
* Trump is convinced that the health of the economy is solely dependent on his awesomeness. That’s absurd on its face, but it’s made worse by the fact that job growth in the United States has actually slowed since Trump took office.
* The president’s answer seemed like a pretty big insult to Mike Pence.
But even putting all of that aside, let’s not miss the forest for the trees: we’ve reached the point in Trump’s presidency in which he’s not only being asked about impeachment, he’s also making predictions about what to expect in the event of such developments.