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“Impeachment Without Conviction”: Here Are The 5 Scenarios For Trump’s Presidency

Authored by Philip Marey, senior US strategist at Rabobank


  • The Democrats in the House of Representatives have decided to start impeachment proceedings against President Trump. While impeachment is possible as the Democrats have a majority in the House of Representatives, conviction is unlikely as long as the Republicans in the Senate continue to support their President. In this case the removal of President Trump from office is unlikely, neither by conviction nor by the 25th Amendment.
  • What’s more, history suggests that it will be a challenge for the Democrats to complete the process of impeachment & conviction before Election Day 2020. And then there is – at least as things stand now – virtually no chance of conviction. Consequently, it is unlikely to affect who is on the Republican ticket for the presidential elections in 2020.
  • However, it will set the tone for the election campaign. In fact, it could even backfire on the Democrats as it may energize Trump voters to go to the polls. Meanwhile, the impeachment theme may overshadow any political message that the Democrats might want to sell to the electorate. What’s more, Democratic candidate Joe Biden may not come out of this process unscathed. This would strengthen the position of the remaining leading candidates in the Democratic primaries, which are far more left-wing than Biden. While this strengthens the position of the left wing in the Democratic Party, it may scare away centrist voters on Election Day. Since impeachability is a political decision rather than a legal matter, history will tell whether starting an impeachment inquiry was the right decision for the Democrats.
  • Impeachment proceedings and the related further deterioration of the US domestic political climate add to the range of factors that are creating the uncertainty for the economic outlook that the Fed is monitoring closely. What’s more, they reduce the chance of meaningful fiscal policy legislation. Therefore, a third insurance cut before the end of the year – which is already in our baseline forecast – has become more likely. It also makes our forecast of a recession in 2020 and the Fed cutting all the way back to zero before the end of next year more likely


Yesterday, the White House released a memorandum of the 30 minute telephone conversation between President Trump and President Zelenskyy – as spelled in the memorandum – on July 25. According to the memorandum President Trump said: ‘The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.’ Both the Senate and the House adopted resolutions calling on President Trump to release the whistleblower complaint to Congress. Earlier, the House Intelligence Committee set a Friday deadline for the Justice Department to release the whistleblower’s account of this event.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) announced on television that she was directing six House committees that were already investigating President Trump to continue their efforts under the umbrella of an impeachment inquiry. She said that ‘the actions taken by the President have seriously violated the Constitution.’ She referred to reports that President Trump has withheld aid to Ukraine while he was pressing President Zelenskyy to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son.

In this special we sketch the different scenarios that could now unfold for Trump’s presidency. We start by explaining how the processes of impeachment & conviction work, and the likely outcomes given the current distribution of seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate. We also consider an alternative route to remove the President from office, through the 25th Amendment. We discuss the crucial role that Republican senators will play and the decisive role of voter support for President Trump. We take a look at the likely timeline of impeachment & conviction and the impact on the campaign for the 2020 elections. We also try to assess how this will affect the Fed’s rate decisions.

Impeachment and conviction

People often talk about impeachment as if it were identical to removing the President from office. However, this is not the case. In order to remove a President from office, the House of Representatives first has to impeach him, and then the Senate has to convict him. Note that President Clinton was impeached by the House in 1998, but he was subsequently acquitted by the Senate, so he was not removed from office. The only other President who was impeached by the House was Andrew Johnson in 1868, but he was also acquitted by the Senate. Formally, no US President has ever been removed by impeachment and conviction. When the Republican leadership informed Richard Nixon that impeachment and conviction were inevitable he resigned prematurely and it never came to a vote.

Due to the two stage procedure of impeachment and conviction it is not that easy to remove a President from office. What’s more, while for impeachment in the House of Representatives only a simple majority of more than 1/2 is needed, conviction in the Senate requires a 2/3 majority. At present, the Democrats have a 235-198 majority in the House (1 independent, 1 vacancy). In contrast, the Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the Senate (2 independents formally caucus with the Democrats). Assuming that all the Democrats vote for impeachment and conviction, it would take 20 Republican defectors in the Senate to remove the President from office. This equals about 38% of the Republican Senators. So while impeachment is within reach of the Democrats, the hurdle for conviction is much higher.


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