Ryan Trump
(Photo by Alex Brandon, AP)

So, play along with my thinking for a bit. You’re a mostly insignificant Republican House member from a suburban district. You came in on the GOP wave by bashing Obamacare in 2010. For 6 years, you laboured in obscurity. You played your part passing bills that you knew might not even make it to Obama’s veto.

Finally, 2016

(Larry Downing, Reuters)

You were going to win your seat for a 4th time (it gets easier every time). The Democrats looked poised to nominate Hillary Clinton (a scandal-plagued, uniquely unpopular candidate). You would finally have a Republican President who would have two jobs: sign your bills and get you reelected. You could free up healthcare (people hated the new status quo and couldn’t be bothered with the details of repeal). He would sign comprehensive immigration reform (with the typical, meaningless hand-wave at border security, of course). And he would champion tax reform (with a rider defunding Planned Parenthood to keep your supporters awake).

Like a good little establishment Republican, you endorsed Jeb Bush, then Marco Rubio, then John Kasich … then you got real quiet. There was a lot to do in the US House of Representatives, after all, and that had always been your focus, as everyone knew. You got real quiet because after three failed attempts to steer people your way, you realized something that the Democrats and the media seem incapable of learning. Most of Trump’s voters don’t like him that much. But seeing him attacked just reminds them how much they hate the attacker.

Ascendancy?

Now Republicans have complete control of the House, the Senate, the Presidency, most of the states, and probably even more property assessors and dog catchers than any party has ever held at once. And you can’t get anything done. Your party’s leader was a member of the other party, like what, three years ago? And you wonder if this is all a long con to discredit the party. Meanwhile, the Vice President gives you visions of someone going to Build-a-Bear, requesting the generic Republican package, and putting a tiny pocket New Testament wrapped in an American flag where they instruct you to put the heart. So you sit in your office, stare at the newest polls from the Democratic hacks at Public Policy Polling, and try to convince yourself that there really are 17% of Republicans who want Donald Trump impeached … and that they all live in your district.

Google Trends: “Make America Great Again” v. “Trump Impeach” in the US over the last 12 months

But reality sets in. You know that isn’t the make-up of your district, or you wouldn’t have gotten so all-consumingly interested in the business of the House back in August. So you need a reason that your Republican voters, the kind that might vote for a primary challenger, will believe.

You’ve Talked Yourself into a Corner

You made fun of the hysteria over the emoluments clause. “Democrats suddenly care about an obscure line in the Constitution? Using an interpretation that would have Barack Obama in violation every time a Saudi-owned library bought Dreams of My Father? Convenient.” Besides, the emoluments clause route would have required you to impeach or approve it back in February.

(Brendan Hoffman, Getty Images)

You’re on record saying the Russia stuff is cheap, overblown innuendo. You know the claims of authoritarianism would apply to the last President … and even to the last Republican President. And the argument that firing FBI Director James Comey is, in and of itself, obstruction of justice strains the suspension of disbelief that you count on in your profession.

Protect this House

With all this being true of so many Republican House members, I think the solution is obvious. These House members will insist on a new FBI Director who will get majorities of Democratic support. They will pass resolutions insisting the FBI investigation is fully funded. They will start congressional investigations. Sure, they will lard them up with questions of Hillary’s emails, Benghazi, and the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich. Sure, they will privately tell the White House that the purpose of these investigations is to clear Trump’s name.

But if they ever need to pull the trigger on the Pence Administration, they simply need to subpoena Trump. He will either refuse to appear, or he will lie to Congress at some point within 9 hours (a charitably long assumption, I fear). That is how articles of impeachment start.

Perhaps the artful deal Trump has left to him is to start the Pence Administration in all but name.

[Note: this article was written before reporting that James Comey alleged that Donald Trump asked him to end the Michael Flynn investigation. In response to that news, some of these predictions have already begun to become true.]

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