And just like that, Trump may have avoided near certain political doom.
As news was breaking that the DOJ had named a Special Counsel for the Russia probe, a move that will substantially ease political tensions on the Hill (and is a move which the administration would almost certainly not have allowed if it had anything material to hide), another major hurdle for Trump dissolved this afternoon, when one of the biggest "risk-factors" behind a potential Trump impeachment was removed.
Recall that in its initial analysis of the biggest risk factor facing Trump, Height Securities' Peter Cohn said to keep a close eye on just one republican: John McCain.
Cutting to the chase, Cohn writes that ending Trump’s viability as president "depends on Republicans turning against him", as impeachment proceedings can only begin with the majority party, and the 25th Amendment (allowing for president’s removal when unable to discharge powers/duties of his office) can only be invoked by Congress and/or vice president, majority of Cabinet.
What will Height be closely watching to see if the Trump drama enters a potentially terminal phase: the main catalyst is whether Sen. John McCain, chairman of Armed Services Committee, begins calling for Trump’s resignation, as U.S. national security issues may increase concern among Republican voters.
And while earlier today, one GOP Rep. Justin Amash already suggested that if the FBI memo story is true, impeachment would be appropriate, in the clearest sign yet that Trump may be safe after all, the Washington Examiner reported that John McCain said that calls from congressional Democrats to impeach President Trump are not “rational” adding that “I don’t think very many people take that very seriously,” he said Wednesday.
“All I can do is judge the situation as it is. Every day, we are surprised by some other twist and turn of this issue so I can only respond now and now I do not think that is a rational approach.”
Earlier in the day, Democratic representative Al Green called for Trump’s impeachment on the House floor Wednesday, accusing the president of obstruction of justice.
“I rise today, Mr. Speaker, to call for the impeachment of the President of the United States of America for obstruction of justice,” he said. “There is a belief in this country that no one is above the law. And that includes the President of the United States of America.”
While Democrats urging Trump’s impeachment had new energy following a bombshell report about Trump on Tuesday, ultimately it was all up to getting Republicans behind the push, and it was in this context that JPM said "a Trump impeachment was very, very unlikely."
Trump - impeachment very, very unlikely and regardless it wouldn't be positive. There is a lot of talk about Trump impeachment and how a President Pence could be a positive. It is way, way too early to begin having the impeachment conversation. Impeachment is much more a political (instead of a legal) process and w/the GOP controlling both chambers and Trump's popularity in the party being (relatively) healthy the political dynamics don't signal impeachment. That could change in Jan '19 assuming Republicans lose either the House or Senate in Nov ’18 but if that happens the whole pro-growth agenda would grind to a halt. The impeachment bar is very, very high (no president ever has been removed from office as a result of impeachment; two had articles of impeachment brought up in the House before being acquitted in the Senate; one resigned before going through the process). The daily scandals obviously don’t help Trump’s political capital but market expectations for legislative action are already very low.
JPM said this before McCain had made his position clear. Now that the Arizona Senator has also voiced his support of Trump (we ignore Putin's offer to present a transcript of the conversation with Lavrov, exonerating Trump) any likelihood of a Trump impeachment, absent some stunning finding by the Special Counsel, is materially lower (if not gone altogether), for the foreseeable future.