The Slatest

Today’s Impeach-O-Meter: There’s Really No Reason Not to Impeach Trump

Adam Schiff, seated, listens as two men lean over his shoulders.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff confers with staff during Friday’s hearing. Alex Wong/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The relaunched Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative estimate of the likelihood that the House votes to impeach Trump before the end of his first term.

For Donald Trump not to be impeached at this point would require at least 15 Democrats who’ve already voted for an “impeachment inquiry” to back away from impeachment itself—to attest that, after hearing all the evidence, they’ve decided that what the president did in Ukraine was fine. That would require, in turn, either a major factual development in the case that puts Trump’s conduct in a more appropriate light or a political shift in which millions of voters change their minds about whether he should be removed from office.

It is hard to imagine the former ever happening given how much self-incrimination Trump has already done. And nothing from this week of news, at least, seems likely to convince anyone on the fence—or their representatives in Congress—that the president isn’t a crook who surrounds himself with crooks. To review:

• Two calm, authoritative State Department officials—George Kent and William Taylor—testified to the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that Trump had set back the cause of good governance in Ukraine and damaged the country’s capacity to defend itself against Russia when he withheld military aid in an effort to leverage the country into announcing groundless “investigations” of Joe Biden and the whereabouts of the Democratic National Committee “server” that was hacked in 2016. Neither witness gave the least bit of support, at least for those of us still living in non-MAGA shared reality, to Republican attempts to portray Trump’s behavior as the legitimate pursuit of “anti-corruption” goals and to portray the president as the victim of a “deep state” conspiracy.

• Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified to the House Intelligence Committee that she’d been pushed out of her job by Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, seemingly because she did not believe the U.S. should work with some of the Ukrainian figures who were part of Giuliani’s Biden/2016 “investigation” smear campaign.

• Trump tweeted during the hearing that “everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad” and suggested she had been responsible for the dissolution of Somalia, which in addition to being probably not true (“I mean, I don’t think I have such powers, not in Mogadishu,” Yovanovitch said) was identified even on Fox News as an inappropriate act of witness intimidation.

• The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors in New York are investigating Giuliani’s involvement with a natural gas business project being pursued by two Ukrainian clients of his who were recently charged with making illegal campaign donations in order to advance the scheme to push Yovanovitch out of office. It’s been previously reported that prosecutors are also looking at Giuliani’s role in the alleged campaign-donation crimes.

• Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi described Trump’s pattern of behavior toward Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “bribery,” reportedly because focus groups in “battleground” House districts have found the word compelling. After months of insisting on impeachment-ambivalence, out of deference to the 2020 election and the fear of alienating swing voters, Pelosi’s shift to forceful and specific high-crimes language indicates that she believes Democrats are making a solid case to the public.

• A jury in D.C. convicted former Trump adviser Roger Stone of having lied to and obstructed Congress during the inquiry into Russia and WikiLeaks’ 2016 dissemination of hacked Democratic emails. (He was also convicted of witness tampering.) Stone, who has known Trump since 1980, lied in particular about his efforts during that summer to learn, on behalf of the Trump campaign, about impending WikiLeaks publications. Trump told Robert Mueller’s team in writing that he did not “recall” speaking to Stone about the subject, but another campaign adviser testified during Stone’s trial that Trump told him, immediately after speaking to Stone on the phone, that WikiLeaks was preparing to release more material.

There’s not much room to raise the meter from its previous setting of 95 percent. And yet it is our sacred duty, in light of the above, to raise this meter.

The Impeach-O-Meter at 98 percent.
Illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo and Lisa Larson-Walker/Slate. 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.