A black ring surrounds the moon… strange winds gather… a foreboding raven circles over Washington, wheeling on motionless wings.
And so the omens mount…
The odds that President Trump will be impeached this year have spiked to 33%.
The same PredictIt poll put the odds at a mere 19% before “Firegate” — a 73% increase.
Incidentally, Bill Clinton’s impeachment odds never topped 14%… even at the depths of l’affaire Lewinsky.
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British betting outfit Betfair now gives Trump just a 45% chance of surviving his first term.
All this comes after reports surfaced claiming Trump shared classified intelligence with top Russian officials last week.
That itself follows claims that Trump tried to squeeze FBI man Comey for investigating his initial national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
And so the knives are out.
“The president must be impeached,” thundered Texas Democrat Al Green from the House floor today.
More voices will follow.
One top Trump official told The Daily Beast, “I don’t see how Trump isn’t completely…” how do we say it… uh… made love to.
But just how likely is a Trump impeachment?
We tackle that question next.
But first a look at a betting venue of a different sort…
“U.S. Stocks Skid Sharply Lower as Trump Worries Slam Wall Street,” screams MarketWatch this morning.
It was a typical headline today.
Markets are beginning to spot the omens — or at least recognize that the Trump stimulus might just be destined for the land of wind and dust…
The Dow plummeted 373 panic-stricken points today.
(When was the last time that happened?)
The S&P careened 44 points of its own.
And the Nasdaq, which ended yesterday at another record high, took a 159-point swan dive.
What a difference a day can make…
Meanwhile, VIX — the seismometer of market insecurity — spiked 23% today.
And good old reliable gold gapped 23 bucks higher, to $1,260.
It seems the market’s finally gotten David Stockman’s message:
I think this is the greatest sucker’s rally we have ever seen… Whatever the terms of The Donald’s eventual exit from the Imperial City, it won’t include enactment of the giant Trump tax cut and fiscal stimulus.
As Daily Reckoning readers know, David’s been… bearish on the entire Trump “reflation trade.”
Commerzbank AG strategist Max Kettner now joins him:
We have an environment now where we don’t speak about fiscal stimulus anymore, we don’t talk about corporate tax cuts anymore.
Almost certainly true.
We dusted off our statute books today…
Impeachment would require the support of a majority in the House — where the Republican Party currently enjoys a 238-193 majority .
So plenty of House Republicans would have to defect to advance impeachment proceedings to the Senate — where Republicans hold a slender 52-46 majority (plus two independents leaning Democrat).
Conviction would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate.
Like the House, several Republican senators would have to throw in with Democrats for a conviction.
Perhaps you’ll recall that the House impeached Bill Clinton in 1998. But the Senate didn’t convict.
And old Bill kept his throne.
So even if the House impeaches Trump, it means naught if two-thirds of the Republican-held Senate votes against.
Now, there is the 25th Amendment…
The 25th Amendment permits a president’s removal if his vice president and a majority of his Cabinet conclude he’s “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
A president can’t just be a bumbling incompetent, mind you. He must be incapacitated, physically or mentally.
Now, maybe if Trump goes shinnying up the White House flagpole in his birthday suit… or babbling nursery rhymes before the Chinese consulate… or appointing his favorite horse senator…
A case could be made.
But short of anything on this scale, the 25th Amendment is probably a dark alley.
But impeachment or no impeachment, it seems the president is damaged goods…
Trump’s already meager stock of political capital is fast melting away… like ice cream in the August sun.
Even some of his loudest buglers are beginning to cough sadly behind their hands.
And he’s only five months in.
Can Trump replenish his capital… can he recapture the lightning that vaulted him to the White House?
The man has some experience defying odds. Ask a certain someone answering to the name Hillary.
But as the great Yogi Berra probably never said, “It’s getting late early.”