What will be the duration of the political saga that begins in Washington? Impossible to say. But if the procedure continues to the end, the final scene is already known. In the Senate, elected officials will take the role of jury, under the supervision of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
It is they who will have to determine if the President is to leave office.
Each time they have been subjected to a similar situation, senators have never reached this conclusion. Both President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and President Bill Clinton in 1998 were acquitted by the Senate.
Will the scenario be repeated with Donald Trump?
Two-thirds support from the Senate is needed for impeachment. Now, at the moment, the Republicans control the upper house, with 53 elected out of 100, against 45 for Democrats, who also count on the support of two independents.
Unless there is a major turnaround, the threshold of 67 votes seems out of reach. All Democrats should vote for the impeachment and 20 Republicans turn their backs on the president.
In the past, part of the Republican caucus has opposed the president’s decisions. For example, to call for the end of US military support to Saudi Arabia for its intervention in Yemen or, as recently as Tuesday, to end the state of emergency, which allows for the misappropriation of military funds in the goal of building a wall at the border.
In the issue before us, some senators, Mitt Romney from Utah, and Ben Sasse from Nebraska, said they were troubled. But we still talk about a very small minority.
Since the election of Donald Trump, few elected to dare to oppose him, lest the President disavows them and supports a rival who would like to take their seat.
Donald Trump still has significant support among Republicans (91%, according to a Gallup poll conducted in early September) and his opinion has a major weight among party activists.
Over the coming months, the probe with Republican activists and the general public about the impeachment procedure could feed the reflection of Republican senators, especially the twenty elected to defend their seat in November elections. .
The weight of public opinion
In 1972, Republican Richard Nixon was elected with an overwhelming majority. Only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia supported Democratic candidate George McGovern. The rest of the electoral map was red.
At the beginning of his second term, his public popularity rate was close to 70%. Over the revelations related to the scandal of Watergate, this rate has melted to reach 24% at the end of his political career.
The unpopularity of the president was reflected in Congress, where his party was already a minority in both houses. Seeing his support crumbling, Richard Nixon announced his resignation from the presidency even before the House of Representatives pronounced.
Twenty years later, Bill Clinton was waiting for another scenario.
The Democratic president began his second term with approval rates ranging from 50 to 60 percent. During his impeachment proceedings, he won the favor of 73% of Americans, many of whom criticized the treatment he was receiving.
At the end of the process, Republican senators even decided to side with their Democratic colleagues, avoiding Bill Clinton to be removed from office.
Donald Trump is hoping for a popular and political verdict similar to that of Bill Clinton, while Democrats will want to replicate Nixon’s experience.
Certainly, President Trump’s scenario will be unique. Both Nixon and Clinton were on their second term and could not run again.
Donald Trump enters his re-election campaign with the backdrop of an impeachment procedure, which could become a weapon or a cannonball.
Mary Ellers is News Reporters’s senior journalist covering federal politics. She has previously wrote for NPR and is a regular contributor to Medium. Mary graduated from Georgetown University’s journalism school with distinction in 2014.