At what point does the word “revelation” lose its importance? After the 14th straight day of “revelations”?
Michael Flynn, Russia, health care, James Comey, Israel, Lavrov: I’m generating a Donald Trump controversy word cloud. Flynn and Comey are the most prominent today, when we learned that Trump (allegedly) asked Comey, the former FBI Director, to drop his investigation into Flynn’s ties to Russia.
Comey didn’t. Then Trump fired him (coincidence?), a move that caused press secretary Sean Spicer to hide in the White House bushes to avoid reporters.
The NY Times described the latest … ugh … revelation as the “the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.” In case you’re new to the justice game, that’s a no-no.
For his part, Trump denied Comey’s version of events in no uncertain terms. The White House released a statement avering that the president “has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn.”
But the severity of this most recent scandal has Republicans and Democrats, alike, calling for further investigation, and that’s not a good sign for Trump’s longevity. Up to now, he’s been bullet-proof. On the campaign trail, no controversial statement proved controversial enough to alienate his base. During his first 100 odd days in the White House, none of his missteps were clumsy enough to turn his party against him.
Depending on what comes out of the Flynn/Comey scandal, though, that could all change, and that’s sent the odds of an eventual Trump impeachment moving in an upward direction. How short should they be in reality? See below. But don’t bank on those numbers being valid for too long. Trump is set to give a speech on Islam … in Saudi Arabia. There’s really no telling what will come out of his mouth in that hornet’s nest.
Odds President Trump is successfully impeached: 9/2
Most sportsbooks won’t give you odds this long anymore, given the change in climate we witnessed today. But the process for impeaching a sitting president is arduous. No president has ever been forced from office via impeachment. (Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson were impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate.)
Republicans control both chambers right now. That could change in the midterms and there is an increasing appetite among the GOP to scrutinize the Comey/Flynn allegations, but the road to impeachment is still miles long, and Trump’s ability to blindly bulldoze his way out of tight spots has made him the new “Teflon Don.”
Odds President Trump does not finish his first term: 5/2
Just because he won’t be impeached doesn’t mean he’ll finish what he started. As Robert Longley noted, “since 1841, over one-third of all American Presidents have either died in office, bec[o]me disabled, or resigned.”
As my colleague and political know-it-all Alexander said, “I think he’ll leave because being the president is hard. … He’s not having fun.” During the first 240 years of America, that would have been a ludicrous statement to make about the president. Now I’m using it as a quote because I can’t come up with anything more apt.
Odds President Trump is re-elected to a second term: 5/1
Maybe those odds are wishful thinking, the same wishful thinking that led to people staying home on election day and putting America in this situation to begin with.
Odds on the next member of Trump’s administration to hide from reporters
H.R. McMaster (National Security Advisor): 5/1
Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State): 5/1
Jeff Sessions (Attorney General): 7/1
Steve Bannon (chief strategist): 8/1
Sarah Huckabee Sanders (deputy press secretary): 12/1
McMaster is fielding most of the questions about Trump divulging classified information to the Russians. Tillerson will likely get the questions when Trump puts his foot in his mouth (or worse) in Saudi Arabia.
Sanders is trying to reconcile what Trump said about firing Comey before getting a recommendation from the Justice Department with the initial statements from the White House, which said the exact opposite. But that scandal feels like a year ago.