Impeachment looks less likely than ever
Robert Mueller's testimony did little to move the needle on impeaching President Trump
Am I sick and tired of this Administration being so shrouded in scandal?
The Takeaway: Robert Mueller’s highly-anticipated testimony on Wednesday did little to arm impeachment enthusiasts. While the media has offered endless coverage of his dodging and deflecting in yesterday’s hearings, the betting markets have moved against the chance that President Trump is sanctioned in such a fashion. But perhaps the obvious is worth stating: this does not change the reality of the president’s actions.
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Democrats had been waiting for this moment for months. Robert Mueller, the former US Special Counsel and lead investigator of Donald Trump’s wrongdoing while president, would take the stand and confirm their suspicions about him. He would soon be impeached.
Except, that’s not what happened in yesterday’s hearings. Instead, we heard Mueller reiterate much of the same findings his report already uncovered. Sure, that’s damning enough for the president—but it doesn’t meaningfully move the needle on impeachment.
According to the politics junkies and market gamblers at PredictIt.com, Mr Mueller’s performance on Wednesday decreased the chance that Mr Trump is impeached by the House before his first term is up. As it stands, they assign just a 22% chance to impeachment, down from 27% on Monday:
Often, I take issue with the markets. However, today I think the wisdom of the crowds is getting Mr Mueller’s testimony right. He did not reveal anything that had already been known. He did nothing concrete to stem the tide of Hannity-esque conspiracy theories that seemed to flow endlessly from the Republican members of the committee. He did not clarify his referral of accountability to Congress. And while he did confirm the severity of Mr Trump’s obstructive acts—chief among them his direction to Don McGahn to get Special Counsel Mueller fired—it is doubtful that this clarification will change anything in Washington. Most rational observers already believed the account as reported. It is too bad for those who think Mr Trump is a criminal—and most who do cite Mr Mueller’s report as evidence enough of the president’s wrongdoing—that most of the Republican caucus is not rational.
But the discussion over impeachment odds may largely miss the point. The biggest exchange of the dual hearings came when Rep. Ted Liu asked Mr Mueller if the only reason he did not indict Mr Trump was because of an executive branch legal opinion on indicting a sitting president. “That is correct”, he said, though he later specified that the Office of the Special Counsel did not make a determination on whether or not to actually prosecute the president.
For now, the saga will go on. And that’s why I won’t be watching cable news.