The Consequences of Impeaching Trump

What would happen if Trump were to be impeached?  This question depends considerably on the timing and specific circumstances of the impeachment.  First of all, Mike Pence would become the President-unless he was implicated in the Russia scandal as the head of Trump’s transition team.  The most likely political consequence is Democratic domination of the White House, and possibly the House and Senate.  But some other consequences persist-loss of trust in the office of the President, dwindling support from world leaders in American institutions,

It is very difficult to lay out the consequences of impeachment because there are two very different but both plausible circumstances in which it could happen.  The first, and most likely scenario, is that Trump continues to alienate people, leading to a Democratic sweep in the 2018 congressional elections, wherein the Democrats begin impeachment proceedings and manage to successfully impeach Trump.  The second outcome is that Republicans will just get so fed up with him or it will become politically expedient to remove him, and the Republicans begin impeachment proceedings due to public pressure.

In both circumstances, Mike Pence would become president.  However, he is facing questions for his role as the head of Trump’s transition team and his inability to oversee people such as Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor who was fired for not disclosing Russian contacts and being in the pay of the Turkish government when he was national security advisor.  If Pence is also impeached or resigns like Spiro Agnew, then the presidency would pass to Paul Ryan.  In both cases, it would be seen as an establishment Republican taking control of a rogue administration.  The so-called “alt-right” movement would despise both of them and may resort to extreme and possibly unlawful measures to keep Trump in office.

If the Democrats depose Trump after initiating impeachment procedures, they are likely to win the White House in 2020 no matter who the Republicans put forth.  Even someone like John Kasich, who is considering a White House run in 2020, would be tainted because of the R next to his name even though he has opposed Trump and his faction from the beginning.  The House and Senate are messier, because most districts are safe due to gerrymandering.  This also helps insulate against a “wave” effect where one party suddenly gains a large number of seats.   If the Democrats impeach Trump, modest gains are expected in the House and Senate and the Democrats are expected to gain control of the White House.  It is hard to be more accurate than that because

If the Republicans are the ones to impeach Trump, they may experience a civil war in their party, with the alt-right and the Never Trumpers fighting.  If they are able to solve this issue and unite for the 2018 or 2020 elections, they will probably only lose modestly.  But if not, Democrats may be able to sweep the House and gain a majority in the Senate.  But the consequences are expected to be far-reaching.  It has been said that Watergate caused people to lose trust in Democrats because they have advocated for government solutions and there was a clear case of government corruption at the highest level.  It is difficult to say whether this will be the case for Trump, as most of the scandal is connected to Trump personally and his highest staff, and not government as a whole.

I cannot rule out the possibility of riots, violence, racial and xenophobic attacks on minorities, and attempts to stop the impeachment process extralegally.  The first man to call for impeachment, Al Green of Texas, has faced threats of lynching, and this is likely to escalate as more people would call for Trump to go.  It will probably not deteriorate beyond that, but the possibility is always there, given the high partisanship the country is experiencing and the fact that both parties are moving away from each other and finding less common ground with each other.

To turn our attention to foreign policy, impeachment may reassure our European allies, as they have been shaken by Trump refusing to commit to Article 5 of NATO, his friendship with Russia, and his lectures to European allies while ignoring human rights abuses in Middle Eastern countries.  They want to return to a normal United States, and Trump upsets the status quo.  However, with Angela Merkel saying that “The times we could completely rely on others are, to an extent, over,” a post-Trump world does not seem to be that friendly to the United States.  Even if Trump’s policies are reversed, European leaders, especially Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, as shown by his much-publicized handshake with Trump, are likely to be more reliant on themselves and the rest of the European Union rather than the United States.  This is most likely because they thought the United States would always have their back, and it is rapidly becoming apparent that this is no longer as true as previously thought.

Our Middle Eastern allies, however, may not be reassured.  President Obama used to castigate our Middle Eastern allies for human rights abuses, and tried to walk a middle ground with Israel and Palestine.  Trump has made arms deals with Saudi Arabia, even though many of them were Obama-era deals he just took credit for, sided with Saudi Arabia against Qatar, and has attacked Iran for being the victim of an ISIS terrorist attack.  This means that Saudi Arabia and Israel may be disappointed if Trump is impeached, as he appears to be siding with them.  Iran will be relieved, as Obama was willing to negotiate with Iran and Trump has used threatening language in the past about ripping up the Iran nuclear deal and putting more sanctions on it.

The rest of the world will probably breathe a sigh of relief.  Trump has been surprisingly quiet about China, even though he used harsh rhetoric in the campaign and promised to label them a “currency manipulator.”  Russia will probably dislike it, because Trump has been friendly to Russia and much of the American establishment is not.  Russia in particular will probably take it harshly, as Putin is an ardent defender of Trump.  There have been allegations of Russian meddling in the elections of the United States, the Netherlands, France, and now Germany is already accusing Russia of attempting to meddle.  This has the consequence of diplomatically isolating Russia, and if Trump is impeached, they lose the strongest world power that has a friendly leader.

In sum, an impeachment of Trump will likely result in gains for Democrats in the United States and most of our allies breathing a sigh of relief.  It is difficult to predict with any certainty specifics, and in truth it might not turn out this way at all.  As far as we know now, the impeachment process would be very drawn out and messy for all those involved.

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