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Is Trump on a collision course with impeachment?

US President Donald Trump/ FILE

The New York Times has reported President Donald Trump’s tough times ahead amid reports to impeach him by Democrats.

Impeachment debate was geared when Justice Brett Kavanaugh who was accused of sexual misconduct was confirmed as US Supreme Court judge on October 7.

In his rallies, Trump has been complaining about how Democrats had treated his nominee and how they may yet try to remove Justice Kavanaugh from the bench, New York Times reported.

Trump was quoted saying, “They’re saying, ‘We’ll impeach him!’”, his voice brimming with incredulity and righteous outrage. “Impeach him for what? For what?” The crowd booed on cue, according to the report.

“Besides that,” Mr. Trump then added slyly, “I have to go first, right?” The crowd laughed, the paper reported.

And in Iowa, he laid out what would undoubtedly be his public argument. “You get impeached for having created the greatest economy in the history of our country,” he said. “The best job numbers in the history of our country, just about, right? The greatest trade deals, which we’ve just finished, in the history of our country,” Trump was quoted.

Rather than being apprehensive about the threat, Mr. Trump, who loves a good brawl, seems almost eager for Democrats to bring it on. He has begun making his case in recent months without waiting for the election.

In August, he warned that if he is impeached, “the market would crash” and “everybody would be very poor,” the paper further reported.

In September, he told supporters it would be their fault if he is impeached because it would mean “you didn’t go out to vote,” according to the paper.

The law provides that the House of Representatives can impeach the President if found guilty when he has committed a crime.

The threat of impeachment has hung over many presidents, but it has never been taken to its full conclusion.

John Tyler was the first to face a meaningful effort to remove him, but opponents could not muster a majority in the House.

Republicans talked about impeaching Harry Truman for firing Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War.

Democrats talked about impeaching Ronald Reagan over the Iran-contra affair and George W. Bush over the Iraq war.

George H.W. Bush predicted that he might be impeached if he went to war to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi forces without congressional approval.

Barack Obama’s aides, likewise, feared impeachment if he launched airstrikes against Syria over congressional objections.

History of president impeachment in US

Perhaps only in the Trump era would the prospect of being impeached become a punch line for the president of the United States. But after almost two years of living under the cloud of a possible impeachment, it may soon cease to be a laughing matter.

While Democrats are largely ducking the topic on the campaign trail, few in Washington doubt that impeachment will be on the table if they win the House on Nov. 6, the paper further reports.

If that happens, anyone who thought the battle over Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation was ugly and divisive should buckle up, because history suggests it would provide only a small taste of what lies ahead.

The only three impeachment efforts that seriously endangered a president came in the Johnson, Nixon and Clinton cases.

The House impeached Johnson for violating a law blocking him from firing cabinet secretaries without Senate approval, a law later found to be unconstitutional. But the underlying dispute was one of policy — Radical Republicans considered the president, a Tennessee Democrat, far too lenient on the South and unwilling to protect freed slaves following the Civil War. The Senate acquitted him by a single vote.

Nixon’s case was a more clear-cut abuse of power and obstruction of justice: the Watergate burglary to spy on his political opposition and the resulting cover-up, including the payment of hush money and, finally, a transcript of the “smoking gun” tape of him trying to order the C.I.A. to block the F.B.I. investigation.

The House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach, and Nixon resigned rather than continue to fight after fellow Republicans abandoned him.

Bill Clinton’s case fell somewhere in the murky middle. Charged with perjury and obstruction of justice for trying to impede a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Paula Jones by hiding his affair with a former White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, Mr. Clinton was impeached on a nearly party-line vote in the House and acquitted in the Senate.

Defenders were left to argue that yes, he may have violated the law, but it was not such a profound violation to merit removal.

More than any other president, however, Mr. Trump has lived under the shadow of impeachment since before he took office.

Within days of his election in November 2016, speculation began about impeachment because of the many ethical issues surrounding him.

Regardless of whether Mr. Mueller reports any ties with Russia during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump’s critics have a laundry list of what they consider impeachable offenses, from hotel and other private business activities that benefit from foreign governments to the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, after trying to get him to drop an investigation of a former aide to hush money paid to two women to keep them from talking publicly about sexual encounters before the election.

According to New York Times public is more supportive of impeaching Mr. Trump than it ever was of impeaching Mr. Clinton and more than it was of beginning impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon until near the end of the Watergate scandal.

In August, 49 percent of Americans surveyed by The Washington Post and ABC News favored impeaching Mr. Trump, while 46 percent opposed it.

The elected Democratic leadership has been reluctant to talk about it, out of worries of a public backlash or playing into Mr. Trump’s hands.

A failed impeachment could energize his base and even propel him to re-election in 2020. “It’s not someplace I think we should go,” Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, has said.

But it is hard to imagine Democrats not going there if they take the House, given the enormous pressure from their liberal base to at least open an impeachment inquiry.

According to New York Times, three-quarters of Democrats told pollsters that they want Mr. Trump impeached. Tom Steyer, the liberal billionaire who has been financing television ads advocating impeachment, announced this past week that he has collected six million signatures on a petition.

Mr. Trump’s side is gearing up and hopes to use the potential fight to galvanize supporters to turn out next month. “It’s very simple — Nov. 6, up or down vote,” Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist, said recently. “Up or down vote on the impeachment of Donald Trump.”