Thursday’s proceedings marked the end of the public hearing phase of the House’s impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s alleged abuse of power in seeking a quid pro quo arrangement with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
According to a whistleblower – and now multiple witness testimonies – the US President was willing to withhold a $400 million military aid package until Zelensky announced investigations into Burisma Holdings and their relationship with Joe and Hunter Biden.
I won’t bore you with all of the details again since I already covered the backstory of the impeachment investigation in our week one recap of the public hearings. This week the American citizenry heard from eight more witnesses, beginning on Tuesday and ending on Thursday night.
- Jennifer Williams – Special Advisor to the Vice President for European and Russian affairs
- Alexander Vindman – Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council (NSC)
- Kurt Volker – United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations
- Tim Morrison – Formerly the top US presidential advisor on Russia and Europe on the White House National Security Council
- Gordon Sondland – United States Ambassador to the European Union
- Laura Cooper – Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian affairs in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
- David Hale – The current United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
- Fiona Hill – Former official at the National Security Council, specializing in the former Soviet Union and Russian and European affairs
Impeachment Betting Odds
- Will Trump Be Impeached in His First Term? (Odds found at Bovada)
- Yes -275
- No +200
In previous articles, I’ve mostly discussed the impeachment hearings with respect to how they’ll ultimately impact betting on the 2020 presidential election. From the beginning, I’ve been saying that the DNC-controlled House of Representatives will probably impeach the President, only to have the Senate vote to leave Trump in office.
In fact, I’ve often wondered if the Democrats ever intended to remove him, or if this entire trial is just an elaborate strategy to influence voters before the election. Either way, it will be a critical point of debate from now through 2020 and is expected to play a significant role in deciding the next President of the United States of America.
However, you don’t need until next November to find some action related to the impeachment inquiry and subsequent trial. Bovada posted odds on whether or not Trump would be impeached during his first term over a year ago in their political betting section. Today, a bet on “Yes” is the favorite at –275.
It seems that the ideal time to have made such a wager was last year when you could still get close to even odds. Especially, with the vote for impeachment looking like a foregone conclusion at this point. -275 isn’t terrible value for a sure thing, right?
Based on the coverage we’ve seen thus far, there shouldn’t be a scenario in which the Democratic majority in the House wouldn’t elect to impeach – especially after spending the last two weeks calling Trump “the most corrupt President in the history of the United States.”
Keep reading; I’m no longer 100% certain that impeachment is guaranteed to happen.
What Happens Next?
If the fifth Democratic debate was any indication, we’re going to be hearing a lot more about Ukraine and the impeachment investigation, regardless of what Congress ultimately decides to do with President Trump. However, that approach might not be as effective as Americans on the left might hope.
As expected, peoples’ reactions to the two weeks of testimonies are mostly divided along party lines. 56.2% of the total respondents to a FiveThirtyEight poll answered that they believe Trump committed an impeachable offense — 98.7% of Democrats this way, while only 18.8% of Republican voters agreed.
Democratic voters came away feeling satisfied that what they’d heard proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Donald Trump pressured Ukraine into opening an investigation into the Biden’s and Burisma Holdings by leveraging a military aid package.
Meanwhile, GOP supporters agree that: 1) Trump asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son; 2) that Trump withheld military aid to pressure President Zelensky to open said investigation, and 3) that the administration tried to cover up the President’s arrangement with Ukraine.
The difference is that Republicans who answered FiveThirtyEight’s poll don’t believe that they’re impeachable offenses.
Independents Against Impeachment
Where things really get interesting, as it pertains to presidential election betting is how registered independents have reacted to the hearings. The Hill is reporting that an Emerson College poll is the second this week to find that 45% of independents oppose impeaching the President, while only 43% are in favor of it.
If these poll numbers are accurate, this is terrible news for DNC candidates. With the Democratic Party still split between moderates and progressives, the 2020 election will likely take on a similar shape as 2016.
Meaning, the party will select a centrist, establishment-friendly nominee. If they lose a portion of their progressive voters to Trump again, and the President is winning the support of independents to this degree already – he’s likely to be re-elected.
In October, 44 percent favored impeachment and removal, and 51 percent opposed.
Only 36 percent of independent respondents in Wisconsin support impeachment and removal.”
Next, the House will vote on whether or not to approve articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. Once that happens, the trial takes place in the Senate.
At the moment, the House has not yet decided when they will hold their impeachment vote. Congress won’t be returning to Washington DC until December 2. Most political pundits expect the decision to be made just before Christmas.
All the House needs to impeach is a simple majority. Since 233 of the 431 members of the House are Democrats, they can bring the charges against Trump without a single GOP vote.
However, they’ll need a two-thirds majority in the Senate – which is currently made up of 53 Republicans and 45 Democrats. That means supporters of removing Trump will need every Democrat and Independent to vote for against him, along with at least 20 Republicans.
(Not So) Easy Money!
The President is claiming that he wants the impeachment trial to take place, since he’ll then be able to call witnesses – including the whistleblower from the Ukraine investigations, Hunter, and Joe Biden. This is where betting on impeachment gets very tricky.
What happens next will shine a bright light on the truth behind the Ukraine investigation. Were Victor Shokin and Yuriy Lutsenko — the Ukrainian prosecutors — initially fired because they were corrupt, or because they were investigating Burisma and Hunter Biden, and the Vice President applied pressure to have them removed?
If they were truly corrupt and leaking bogus information to Rudy Giuliani out of vengeance, the Democrats should be happy to impeach and let the Senate trial play out. However, if the Biden’s were doing something illegal and using the Vice President’s influence to stop investigations from happening, that changes everything.
Not only does that vindicate Trump for not trusting official channels and asking for a Ukrainian investigation, but it would end Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and his political career.
That said, the White House could be bluffing about holding a full trial. They have the numbers in the Senate to shoot the impeachment articles down from the start, which is what most people expected, but that depends on the realities of whatever happened between Trump, the Biden’s, and Ukraine.
I am changing my prediction.
Based on what I’ve seen and read about this trial, I believe the Democrats in the House will vote against articles of impeachment. Their reasoning will be that this close to the next election, they’d rather let the voters decide.
If there’s any chance that Hunter or Joe Biden have any skeletons in their closet, as it pertains to Burisma Holdings, or that there were any shenanigans with this CIA whistleblower or Adam Schiff – the DNC is better off keeping things vague and hoping the public connect the dots from the public hearings on their own.
They’re better off taking the hit for not impeaching – and calling the rumors and innuendos it will cause “conspiracy theories” — than having any negative information exposed in the Senate. Unless, of course, Donald Trump is everything they say he is and nobody on the left side of the aisle did anything wrong.
Personally, I don’t believe there are any good guys in Washington DC; everyone’s got something to hide.