The Slatest

Today’s Impeach-O-Meter: Tom Steyer Still Isn’t Helping

Billionaire Tom Steyer’s pro-impeachment billboard in Times Square on Monday.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends, whether by being impeached (and convicted) or by resigning under threat of same.

Update, Nov. 21: Tom Steyer’s office emails to object to my characterization of his project as a distraction from legislative and grassroots activity, noting that he is running $10 million worth of “tax reform”-themed impeachment ads and funds an activism group called NextGen America that works “to prevent climate disaster, promote prosperity, and protect the fundamental rights of every American.” Here’s the tax ad:

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Fair enough—but it’s also worth noting that Steyer is not exactly encouraging a collective focus on grassroots issues activism by unveiling impeachment billboards in Times Square and ending the tax ad with a call to “join us” at NeedtoImpeach.com.

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Original post, Nov. 20: Earlier this month, my colleague Jim Newell laid out Democratic leaders’ argument against making the impeachment of Donald Trump an immediate priority. The case, in short, is that such a push would divert political capital (and literal capital) away from the more pressing goals of 1) resisting specific Trump policy measures and 2) contesting the 2018 races that will be crucial to gaining enough power in Congress to actually win an impeachment vote. It’s a good argument!

Tom Steyer, a billionaire finance guy who has launched a national advertising and petition campaign calling for impeachment, doesn’t care. Here’s what he told Newell about coordinating his effort with Democratic figures who might have thoughts about how to best deploy his money at this particular moment:

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When I asked Steyer if he had given a heads-up to Democratic leaders, he laughed for 17 seconds.

“Why would I do that?”

Monday, as you can see above, Steyer continued to escalate his campaign, proudly introducing a Times Square impeachment billboard. He says he plans to spend $20 million on the project, which has not as of yet resulted in any decline in Trump’s approval rating or, as far as I’m aware, in any Democratic members of Congress announcing new support for impeachment proceedings.

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Meanwhile, Republicans are closing in on passage of a monstrously unpopular tax bill. So, instead of funding ads that raise awareness of the tax bill’s potential effects in swing districts, or donating to the grassroots groups that coordinate pressure on wavering GOP legislators, Steyer is paying for an expensive billboard to advocate a measure that has zero chance of success at the current moment—one that wouldn’t even make sense right now if Democrats did hold Congress because the investigation into whether Trump committed impeachable offenses related to Russia is still ongoing. C’mon!

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Today’s meter level has been lowered five points out of spite toward Tom Steyer.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Peter Parks-Pool/Getty Images.

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