President Donald Trump has landed in a situation no president has ever been in before – one in which he could be impeached, removed from office and re-elected.
An elected official who is removed from office can still return to the political ring for re-election, according to Article I, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution.
Due in part to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and other House Dems rewriting the impeachment rules coupled with a handful of exploited loopholes, it’s likely that Trump will be impeached after his scandal involving Ukraine blew up in September. But if acquitted by the majority-red Senate, Pelosi’s poorly-timed impeachment inquiry could lead to a total collapse of trust and credibility in the Democratic party.
Trump could be in a position to win the electoral college by an even bigger margin than his 304-227 victory in 2016. Election analyst David Wasserman estimated that based on US Census data, there are 35 million more eligible non-college white voters who didn't vote in 2016 than college-educated whites, according to Business Insider.
If re-elected, and another scandal arises, Democrats could file another impeachment inquiry. It’s a perfectly valid course of action permissible by the U.S. Constitution. But politically speaking, the left would be trapped in a no-win situation with two richly unfavorable options: endure another Trump term or file a follow-up impeachment inquiry.
If Democrats aim to impeach again in Trump’s hypothetical second term, the entire political party would risk something akin to a public relations crisis.
Common rhetoric on the far right says the Republicans operate offensively, as a party of doers, and the Democrats are a party of hinderers and witch hunters, only trying to sabotage the efforts of the right. It’s not the most popular opinion amongst moderates, but right-wing influencers like Stephen Miller have been trying to offer more traction to this rhetoric amongst political neutrals since Trump was sworn in.
Chasing after multiple impeachments would give strong credibility to Trump and friends’ repeated claims of witch-hunting by the left.
Jim Manley, assistant to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said legal experts agree it’s political suicide to put the Democratic party platform on hold to go through the impeachment ordeal more than once.
“The cold, hard political reality is that it would be very hard for the House ever to try to take another bite at the apple,” Manley said.
Rewriting the impeachment rules, Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) are further partisanizing the impeachment issue, as well as strengthening Trump’s voter base, which is already in a position to win the electoral college again next year. Despite maintaining his claim that the rules haven’t differed from those applied in the Nixon and Clinton impeachments, Schiff granted himself the power to decide which closed-door depositions to make public and which to include in the evidence for impeachment.
Democrats also changed rules about committee subpoenas from those used in the Clinton impeachment. That would take away Republican power to act as a check on the authority of the chairman.
And it backfired already. When Schiff started his quest to build a case through loopholes and new rules, it actually became a uniting factor among moderate and far-right Republicans alike. A FiveThirtyEight poll found that 49% of Americans personally disapprove of the Trump impeachment, a number growing every day – that number was only 36.8% back in May.
And that 49% likely makes up the population of voters needed to realize the potential of another electoral college victory for Trump.
Furthermore, another new loophole offers Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York) the power to deny Trump and his council the ability to depose, call or question any witnesses. But of course, “The rules are very much the same as they were during the Nixon impeachment, during the Clinton impeachment," Schiff maintained. Sure doesn’t look like it.
A CBS News poll on Tuesday found that, with many Dems agreeing, the majority of Americans think “the Democrats have done a bad job handling the impeachment.”
None of this conclusively points to the likelihood of Trump getting both impeached and re-elected, but for the first time ever, it is possible. Nixon and Clinton were both impeached in their second terms, and Andrew Johnson wasn’t nominated for a second term.
The bottom line is this: House Democrats have the most power they have had since Trump was elected, but with the combination of partisanizing the issue, bending the rules and poor timing, the Democrats’ biggest power could be their biggest weakness as we look forward to 2020. And ultimately, a post-impeachment re-election has a silver lining even for the pro-democracy anti-Trump community: the democratic electoral process in the U.S. gives the people the representation they want, even in the most dire circumstances.