I began thinking about impeachment before the November 2016 election. For weeks, my students had been asking who I thought would be our next president, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Finally, on a late evening in mid-September 2016, I leaned back in my chair and peered out into the hall at the mostly darkened offices of American University in Washington, D.C. I had just finished my analysis: Donald Trump would win the presidency. My forecast ignored polls, debates, advertising, tweets, news coverage, and campaign strategies—the usual grist for the punditry mills— that count for little or nothing on Election Day. I had used the same proven method that had led me to forecast accurately the outcomes of eight previous elections, and I’d kept my eye on the big picture— the strength and performance of the party holding the White House currently. After thirty-two yearsof correctly forecasting election results, even I was surprised by the outcome.
Among those who noticed my prediction was Donald J. Trump himself. Taking time out of preparing to become the world’s most powerful leader, he wrote me a personal note, saying, “Professor—Congrats—good call.” What Trump overlooked, however, was my “next big prediction”: that, after winning the presidency, he would be impeached.
Here I did not rely on my usual model, rather I used a deep analysis of Trump’s past and proven behavior, as well as the history of politics and impeachment in our country. In the short span of time between Trump’s election and this book’s publication in April 2017, his words and deeds have strengthened the case considerably. History is not geometry and historical parallels are never exact, yet a president who seems to have learned nothing from history is abusing and violating the public trust and setting the stage for a myriad of impeachable offenses that could get him removed from office.
America’s founders, who had so recently cast off the yoke of King George’s tyranny, granted their president awesome powers as the nation’s chief executive and commander in chief of its armed forces. Yet they understood the dangers of a runaway presidency. As James Madison warned during the Constitutional Convention, the president “might pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation or oppression” and “betray his trust to foreign powers,” with an outcome “fatal to the Republic.” To keep a rogue president in check, delegates separated constitutional powers into three independent branches of government. But knowing that a determined president could crash through these barriers, they also put in place impeachment as the rear guard of American democracy.
After exhaustive debate, the framers agreed on broad standards for impeachment and assigned this absolute power not to the judiciary, but to elected members of the U.S. House and Senate. By doing so they ensured that the fate of presidents would depend not on standards of law alone, but on the intertwined political, practical, moral, and legal judgment of elected officials. Hamilton explained that impeachments broadly cover “the abuse or violation of some public trust” and are properly “denominated POLITICAL.”
This book will escort you through the process and history of impeachment; as your warning about the dangers of Trump’s rogue presidency; and as your guide to the myriad transgressions that I predict will lead to his impeachment. I invite you to follow each chapter and decide for yourself when Trump has reached the critical mass of violations that triggers the implosion of his presidency.