Liberal Leaning CNBC: Trump impeachment not likely despite Manafort conviction and Cohen plea


With Cohen facing up to five years in prison, questions are being raised as to whether Trump could also be prosecuted. Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis said Tuesday after the proceedings, "If those payments (of hush money) were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?"

Despite impeachment talk, it's no easy task to remove a president in such a way. Presidents Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson were impeached, but both were acquitted by the Senate. President Richard Nixon resigned before a likely impeachment.

There are three impeachable offenses: treason, bribery and the more opaque "high crimes and misdemeanors," but the House of Representatives has the responsibility to accuse the president of one of those things. If a majority in the House agrees, a president is then impeached. The Senate then votes on impeachment, which under the U.S. Constitution requires a two-thirds majority.

In Trump's case, starting the impeachment process would require a mass revolt by Republicans against him in the GOP-controlled House, an event even less likely than normal with midterm elections coming in November.

Even Democrats are mostly keeping quiet about impeachment to avoid motivating the Republican base before the elections. Public opinion polls have also shown a general unease among the American public when asked if they would like to see Trump impeached should the Democrats win control of the House.

Richard Johnson, a professor in U.S. politics at Lancaster University, also remarked that he would "urge caution to those who think impeachment is around the corner."

"Impeachment is a political process. The jury is 100 U.S. senators, whose overwhelming concern is re-election and, even more pertinently for some, re-nomination. Two-thirds of them must vote to convict. We're in a new partisan landscape from the 1970s. Even if Democrats take control of the House, will there be around 17 Republican senators willing to vote with around 50 Democrats to convict a Republican president? I doubt it," he said in a research note.

Correction: This story was revised to correct that Manafort's conviction was for charges unrelated to the 2016 campaign.


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