The Slatest

Today’s Impeach-O-Meter: The House Impeaches Trump

Trump, seen from the shoulders up, looks toward the camera while seated. Pence is seen out of focus behind him.
Mike Pence and Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Monday. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

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

Well … it happened! Despite the combined effects of Robert Mueller’s deference to congressional Democrats, congressional Democrats’ fear of an electoral backlash, and Attorney General William Barr’s totally shameless scale-tipping on his boss’s behalf, Donald Trump still managed to become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House of Representatives. You can read the articles of impeachment here; they concern the president’s attempt to extort Ukraine into announcing bogus investigations of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, a scheme that itself rose from the ashes of the Justice Department’s Russia investigation. In the vote, taken Wednesday just after 8 p.m., 229 Democrats and ex-Republican Michigan Rep. Justin Amash voted in support of the first article, charging Trump with abuse of power. Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson and New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew (who’s reportedly planning to switch parties) were the only Democratic votes against it. On the second article, charging Trump with obstruction of Congress, Maine Rep. Jared Golden joined the two previous Democratic dissenters. The final tally was 230–197 to impeach for abuse of power, and 229–198 to impeach for obstruction. (Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the contrary-minded lower-tier presidential candidate, voted “Present” on both.)

And there you have it! Impeachment.

The Impeach-O-Meter at 100 percent.
Illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo and Lisa Larson-Walker. 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.

Now for the next part. Senate leaders have not yet decided when Trump’s trial will begin or what rules will govern it. The chances that Trump will be convicted and removed, which would require a 67-vote majority, are currently very low. There are 53 Republican senators, and none except Utah’s Mitt Romney have even hinted at the possibility that they could vote for conviction. That said, there are three swing-state Republican senators running for reelection in 2020—Arizona’s Martha McSally, Colorado’s Cory Gardner, and Maine’s Susan Collins. Those three could potentially join Romney and Trump-skeptical Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski to vote with Democrats on procedural rulings, like whether White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo can be called as witnesses, that could end up damaging the president politically.

Trump being who he is, there’s also always the possibility that something even more damaging to his reputation could happen—related to Ukraine or to, like, buying Greenland, or celebrating Nazism, or whatever—that puts more political pressure on Republican senators to give him the old constitutional boot. (A few months ago the chances of the House voting for impeachment looked nonexistent, and then, bam, crazy Ukraine extortion scheme. Stuff comes up, in this administration.) And there are non-scandal-related ways Trump’s approval rating could suffer, like if the economy were to suddenly enter a recession. So as we re-recalibrate the meter for its next task, to measure his chance of being convicted and removed, we’ll reset it at 1 percent: very small, but not super-duper small.

The dial of the Impeach-O-Meter, now with a series of ever-grumpier Trump faces ending in Mike Pence's face, with the needle pointing just above zero.
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.