Sep 27, 2019

The impeachment tipping point

President Trump walks from Marine One to the Oval Office on Sept 26, 2019. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

After this crazy week, it's increasingly hard to see how Democrats could back down from making Donald Trump the 3rd president in history to be impeached.

The big picture: Impeachment has been elevated from an activist issue to a dominant issue in the Democratic Party. House Democratic leadership is on board — even if they're still hedging on the process — and so are almost all of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

  • Joe Biden is the only candidate whose support for impeachment would be conditional on Trump obstructing Congress.
  • Public sentiment is moving in that direction, as new polls show a rise in support for impeachment.

What's next: Watch top Democrats to see if their support for impeachment changes from conditional — "I'll support these efforts if Trump does X" — to absolute.

  • That might take longer in the Senate, and it's still doubtful whether Republicans would ever come on board. 
  • But history is hard to read in the moment: Richard Nixon's story shows how public sentiment can build like a wave.

The bottom line: You'll read about this week in the history books — whether or not Trump is impeached.

Go deeper: How an impeachment inquiry works

Go deeper

Impeached and re-elected

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It’s looking more likely by the day that President Trump will be impeached by the House for his dealings with Ukraine. But if he is acquitted by the Senate — and then goes on to win a second term — Democrats will face a predicament neither party has confronted in U.S. history.

Why it matters: If Trump survives politically and is re-elected to serve another four years, Congress likely would have nowhere left to go in the event of another scandal, legal and political experts say — not because the House couldn’t impeach him again, but because it might be politically impossible to do so.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019

Scoop: Trump's private concerns of an impeachment legacy

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump has told friends and allies he worries about the stain impeachment will leave on his legacy.

Driving the news: In a phone call with House Republicans on Friday, Trump articulated why he really doesn't want this. Impeachment, Trump said, is a "bad thing to have on your resume," according to a source on the call. Two other sources on the call confirmed the substance of the comment, but one said they recalled Trump phrasing it as "you don't want it [impeachment] on your resume."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 7, 2019

Trump's impeachment poll warnings

Data: Nixon survey by Gallup, Clinton survey by CNN, Trump survey by Monmouth University. (The Gallup question changed from "Do you think President Nixon should be impeached and compelled to leave the Presidency, or not?" to "Do you think his actions are serious enough to warrant his being removed from the Presidency, or not?" after Feb. 1974.) Chart: Axios Visuals

Public support for President Trump's impeachment is higher than it was for Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton when the House launched impeachment inquiries against them.

Why it matters: Support for impeachment of Trump is still less than half the country — 44% in the Monmouth University poll shown here; 47% in a CNN poll. And the polling reflects a 50-50 country. But the Ukraine scandal is pushing the numbers up.

Go deeperArrowOct 6, 2019