We’re now at the point in the story where President Donald Trump is officially arguing against his own impeachment.
In an interview that aired Thursday morning, Fox and Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked Trump whether he believed Democrats would impeach him if they win more seats in Congress after the November elections.
“Well, you know, I guess it says something like high crimes and all,” Trump responded. “I don’t know how you can impeach somebody who has done a great job. I will tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor because without this thinking, you would see — you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe in.”
Trump went on to claim Hillary Clinton would have been bad for economic growth, brag about the Republican tax cut (that in reality, increased the federal deficit), and say that China likes him “very much.” (China-U.S. tensions are on the rise, and the Pentagon recently put out a report that said the Chinese military is “training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets.”)
To be clear, a president’s impeachment does not hinge on how the economy is performing, or on whether China likes the United States at a particular moment.
On Tuesday, Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts in New York federal court. But the biggest bombshell was when he implicated Trump in one of those crimes. Cohen revealed that he paid hush money to two women who said they had affairs with Trump “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office” — referring to Trump. The payments were made before the 2016 election.
The Justice Department accepted Cohen’s plea, making Trump an unindicted co-conspirator. The prevailing view of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) is that a sitting president cannot be indicted. That’s why Trump hasn’t been indicted yet.
Ultimately, Congress has already identified what constitutes grounds for impeachment. The Congressional Research Service notes that it’s not just about criminal behavior:
Congress has identified three general types of conduct that constitute grounds for impeachment, although these categories should not be understood as exhaustive: (1) improperly exceeding or abusing the powers of the office; (2) behavior incompatible with the function and purpose of the office; and (3) misusing the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain.
But there is currently a Republican majority in Congress, making impeachment unlikely. A majority of the House of Representatives would need to push this forward, and at the moment, Republicans hold a whopping 236 seats.
“I give myself an A+,” Trump said during the Fox & Friends interview. “I don’t think any president has ever done what I have done.”