A few days ago our own Martin Longman made a good case for why Donald Trump might well be impeached by his own party: put simply, Trump has become a such swelling liability to the GOP from both a public relations and legislative standpoint that they can’t live with him any more than they can live without him. Republicans bear no particularly love or loyalty for Trump: he’s only useful to them as long as he’s, well, useful.
Time seems to have flown this year, but it’s already mid-June 2017. The 2018 midterms will be upon us before we know it, and so far the only thing Republicans really have to show from Trump is a Supreme Court justice–and that was really Mitch McConnell’s doing, anyway.
So why not toss Trump overboard in favor of Pence, Hatch or Ryan? Well, in large part because it’s hard to say how many Republicans might go down with Trump, and because the intra-party damage from splitting into the Trump prosecutor and Trump defender factions might be irreparable. Primary battles would rage across the land.
But from another angle, all Trump really has to back him up are his legions of supporters. Trump ran as an anti-establishment populist with no friends in Washington. Without “the people”–or at least, his people–Trump has nothing.
So when polls show former FBI Director James Comey as 20 points more trustworthy than Trump in the central conflict that may determine his fate, that’s a big deal. When his approval rating is crating down to 38% just six months into his presidency, that’s a major problem.
Trump has no loyalty from his staff, no love from Congress, no respect from the bureaucracy or the military, no alliances in foreign policy. The best the Republican Party can say about him is that he creates a nice distraction while they try to pass unpopular bills, but so far the legislative agenda has been stuck in the mire.
As the walls close in around Trump, the calculus will increasingly turn within his party toward discarding him. Even if there were a major terrorist attack, it’s not at all clear that a significant portion of the public that currently dislikes him would rally around him, rather than blame him for incompetence in allowing it to happen.
Trump is obviously miserable in the job, anyway, and may well decide that resignation is his best option.
If he gets much more unpopular, he may not have any other choice.