Special counsel Robert Mueller continues fleshing out a case for collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, as two major disclosures continue to unfold this week. But some prominent political observers say the president's odds of being impeached are actually dropping.
Last week, fired national-security adviser Mike Flynn cut a deal to cooperate with Mueller, and on Wednesday, a potential reason why was revealed: During the president's inauguration speech, Flynn texted an associate that a deal to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East with Russian money was "good to go" — a deal that could only go through with the lifting of sanctions against Russia. Also this week, Reuters reported that that Mueller had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, a major lender to both Trump and Russia, for financial records of those close to Trump.
Both sketch out a quid and a quo within Trump and Putin's relationship. "But bringing impeachment charges against Trump, and actually forcing him from office, are two vastly different things," writes Peter Beinart in the Atlantic. "That’s because impeachment is less a legal process than a political one." Impeachment, if voted on today, would require the votes of 22 Republicans in the GOP-controlled House. Even if the Democrats take control of that chamber next fall, removing Trump would require a 2/3 majority of the Senate, at least 15 Republican votes. "That kind of mass Republican defection has grown harder, not easier, to imagine," he says. "It’s grown harder because the last six months have demonstrated that GOP voters will stick with Trump despite his lunacy, and punish those Republican politicians who do not."
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Trump's approval ratings haven't fallen below 79 percent among Republicans since he took office, and none of Trump's more outrageous acts or any of Mueller's findings have eroded that support. Meanwhile, two Republican senators who openly criticized Trump — Jeff Flake and Bob Corker — saw their home-state approval drop off a cliff. Both are retiring from Congress.
Meanwhile, unprecedented allegations of pedophilia haven't shaken the GOP faithful from Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, suggesting that unprecedented revelations about collusion might cause similar apathy among Trump's Republican rank-and-file. In a Pew poll released Thursday, only 19% of Republicans said they viewed the Russia investigation as "very important" for the country, and only 7% said they thought Trump definitely had improper contact with Russia. "Removing a president requires bipartisanship," says Beinart. "And in this ultra-partisan age, that means removing a president is virtually impossible, even when he’s Donald Trump."