Advertisement
politics

We Got Eight Experts to Guess How Long Trump Has Left

Don't hold your breath for a quick impeachment.

by Mike Pearl
31 May 2017, 8:18am

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Seemingly every day, some all-caps "BREAKING NEWS" materializes about the Trump team's supposed connections to Russia and the widening investigations it has spawned. Last week, for instance, the public learned that Donald Trump's senior adviser/son-in-law Jared Kushner is one focus of the FBI investigation; Kushner also reportedly made attempts with disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn to communicate with the Kremlin late last year. More than a dozen Democratic legislators have publicly entertained the idea of impeaching Trump over something connected to the Russia-Flynn affair, and some Republicans have criticized Trump over Kushner-gate as well as Trump's weirdly timed firing of FBI director James Comey.

Polls have found that between 38 percent and 48 percent of Americans want Trump impeached. Whatever the public's will, that process would have to be initiated by a Republican-controlled Congress, which is obviously unlikely, and no president has ever been removed from office through impeachment—but you kind of have to wonder if Trump will be the first. It's impossible to watch the constant parade of lies, leaks, gaffes, and strategic blunders without being skeptical about Trump's odds of staying in the White House for the full term.

I have no idea how or when or if this will all come tumbling down. So I asked eight people who might have a better idea—all have knowledge of the US political process, elections, and constitutional law.

Here's what they told me:

Mary Dudziak

Emory University professor of law and president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

When will Trump leave? As early as the end of 2017, and most likely before the end of his term.

"I would not be surprised if he resigned before 2017 was over—but he might also limp along past the midterm elections. It's hard to know whether he would listen to leaders of his party if he'd lost the ability to be effective, in the way Nixon did. Trump's political effectiveness is declining at a more rapid pace than Nixon's did."

Richard E. Berg-Andersson

Researcher, the Green Papers, a site that monitors and tracks primary elections

When will Trump leave? Ten to 14 months after an inciting incident (but nothing has happened yet that fits the bill).

"[The cases of Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton] suggest a 'lead time' of about a year (give or take) between [an] impeachable offense first being taken seriously and actual formal impeachment proceedings. I will not here suggest a specific date for an early end to the Trump presidency, should impeachment become a viable option; instead, I will merely suggest that one is looking at, say, some ten to 14 months after Impeachment becomes politically serious before just such an ending."

Mickey Edwards

Former Republican congressman from Oklahoma

When will Trump leave? The end of his term

"The best way to get an accurate count of the number of chickens one has is if one waits until they've completed the hatching process. It's obvious that the president has done things that are, to use his terminology, big league bad. Dumb. Harmful. But premium-grade stupidity, on which Donald Trump has pretty well cornered the market, is not always illegal. Undoing the results of a national election is a pretty big step, and unless the various ongoing investigations manage to prove actual criminality, there's a better than even chance that we won't be able to get rid of this painful cyst on our system until this entire four-year term has played out."

Josh Putnam

Lecturer at University of Georgia's department of political science, creator of Frontloading HQ

When will Trump leave? The end of his term, barring a political shift

"At this point, I'm still of the opinion that it is going to take electoral pressure—and Republicans losing control of one or both houses of Congress—to shorten Trump's time in the White House. However, that assessment could quickly change based on new information. But so far, it has been a lot of noise that doesn't seem to be moving Republicans in Congress (or their constituents, in most cases)."

John LeBoutillier

Former Republican Congressman from New York

When will Trump leave? "I think it's 50–50 that he makes it through this four-year term."

Sarah Rosier

Federal editor for Ballotpedia

When will Trump leave? It depends on the midterms

"With Republicans controlling the White House and Congress, President Trump, barring any subsequent investigations or unforeseen events, would likely only leave the White House if it were his decision. This is one reason why Democrats and Republicans have been pouring money into this year's special elections and already looking ahead to November 2018. If impeachment is officially explored, the current congressional reactions do not seem favorable to removal. If there would be a 2018 Democratic wave in Congress, those odds could change."

Geoffrey Skelley

Associate editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball at University of Virginia's Center for Politics

When will Trump leave? The end of his term

"Even if things go swimmingly for Democrats in November 2018, it will be extremely difficult for them to win a majority in the US Senate. Just preserving the current partisan makeup of the Senate would be a triumph for them. Of course, the 25th Amendment is hanging out there as another possible means to remove Trump from power. However, if Trump were to contest the claim that he was incapable of discharging his duties as president, two-thirds of both houses of Congress would have to vote to affirm that Trump is incapacitated, which would keep Vice President Mike Pence in the position of 'acting president.' This actually would not technically remove Trump from the office of the presidency. But getting two-thirds to agree to such a vote might not be easy, even if Trump has really backed himself into a corner."

Daniel Drezner

Tufts University professor of international politics and author of the Washington Post's Spoiler Alerts blog

When will Trump leave? The end of his term

"My answer is that Trump is more likely to exit office early due to, well, death or medical incapacity than due to his scandals. I don't mean to trivialize the scandals that are facing them, it's just that these investigations can take years. Too many commentators doubted Trump's stamina during the primary and general election phases of the campaign; I can see him hunkering down for quite some time even if the scandals mount. Unless and until the GOP turns on him—which likely won't happen until they experience a negative wave election—he'll stick around. Unless his eating and lack of exercise kills him."

Follow Mike Pearl on Twitter.