More than half of Democrats in the House of Representatives now back impeaching Donald Trump. Paul Krishnamurty says the odds about it happening are wildly wrong...
"This bet merely requires a majority of House members voting to instigate impeachment. As they have the majority, this is within the power of the Democrats regardless of Republicans."
Throughout the last few, relentlessly dramatic years, it has become increasingly clear that most of the British media is hopeless when it comes to covering US politics.
Back in March, I immediately urged caution when almost every outlet portrayed Attorney General William Barr's summary of the Mueller Report as fact - even the final word. That summary unravelled within days and once released, even a heavily redacted report confirmed it was indeed a political scam. Mueller's subsequent testimony, however, barely made the news here.
UK news slow to report developments
Does this lack of reportage affect betting markets? I reckon so, if impeachment is anything to go by. Search 'impeachment' on the BBC website and the last entry is July 18th. Yet 121 Democrats in the House of Representatives - more than half their caucus - have now called publicly for an impeachment investigation. Last weekend, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said formal proceedings were underway.
That statement - merely confirming an unofficial process that has long been underway in the form of multiple investigations - didn't even move the Betfair market. The [5.2], equivalent to a 19% chance, is still available about the House passing one article of impeachment during Trump's first term.
Democrats have numbers to pass a House vote
Perhaps the lack of market interest is down to the general belief that Trump will not be removed from office. That is NOT this bet.
Removing a president requires a two-thirds majority of the Senate, following a trial. This bet merely requires a majority of House members voting to instigate it. As they have the majority, this is within the power of the Democrats regardless of Republicans. Although they can at least count on Justin Amash's vote.
There was a time when the GOP establishment hated Donald Trump. They then realized they could use a man like this--unprincipled, transactional, shameless--to push their agenda. McConnell and McCarthy are giddy about Trump. Conservatives in Congress are the ones privately horrified.? Justin Amash (@justinamash) August 1, 2019
This is a political choice, that has been available to the Democrats since taking the House last November. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been reluctant to fully back it because of the significant political risk. Instead, the leadership prefers to build up the evidence, pressure and potential charges via a plethora of congressional investigations.
Mueller material is already explosive
Trump has so far successfully employed delaying tactics. With the administration ignoring subpoenas and blocking the release of bank records and tax returns, Democrats have been forced to seek court rulings. I expect they will be successful eventually, but there is already plenty of ammunition to accuse Trump of 'high crimes and misdemeanours'.
There is enough, just from the Mueller report, to justify Obstruction of Justice charges. The Special Counsel's testimony may not have made for compelling viewing but, when addressed with the right questions, Mueller delivered the confirmation Democrats needed to make damning videos like this one.
In a separate investigation, the House Oversight Committee have uncovered various bombshells in relation to dealings, pre and post election, between the Trump campaign and Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
They conclude the adminstration has "virtually obliterated the lines normally separating government policy making from corporate and foreign interests". Many observers believe this committee's investigations present the greatest threat to Trump.
Then there are the redacted parts of the Mueller Report, pertaining to ongoing criminal cases and counterintelligence. Nadler's comments this week are an attempt to get access to Grand Jury material, but that will probably only be forthcoming if the House officially triggers an impeachment inquiry.
All of this is leading Democrats to a position where they can say they have no choice but to impeach, given both the gravity of crimes and persistent obstruction. A clamour is growing, whether that be House Democrats, presidential candidates or former VP Al Gore.
Former Vice President Al Gore to @JonKarl on impeachment proceedings: "My own view is that not seeking accountability for what appear to be credible allegations that crimes were committed --meaningful crimes - runs the risk of normalizing that behavior" https://t.co/FIV5nXSB19 pic.twitter.com/IPioa7a2D5? This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 12, 2019
In my view, an impeachment vote in the House is all but inevitable. Just a matter of timing. It is in the Democrat interest to stretch this out, thus turning the 2020 election into 'Trump on trial'. They could even delay long enough to ensure that the decisive Senate trial takes place after the election.
It wouldn't be a certainty to pass. On the basis of her positions and earlier promotion of Barr's false conclusions, Tulsi Gabbard is bound to defend Trump. Democrats in swing districts may fear negative consequences, although I suspect appeasing their own side will be more important. Nevertheless, if and when that vote does materialise, the 'Yes' odds will collapse, probably to odds-on.
Bet on the Trump Presidency here