Day 6

Trump's odds of staying in office: The Day 6 Impeach-O-Meter for September 27

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has launched a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Will it move the needle on the Impeach-O-Meter?

Nancy Pelosi has launched an impeachment inquiry. Will it move the needle?

(Ben Shannon/CBC)

When Donald Trump generates headlines, Day 6 fires up the "Impeach-O-Meter," inviting political experts to estimate the odds that Donald Trump will be impeached by the House of Representatives. These are, of course, subjective and hypothetical scores and the impeachment process is complex and dependent on many factors.

U.S. House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump on Tuesday.

After months of resisting calls to do exactly that, Pelosi was swayed by new details of a phone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, as well as allegations from a whistleblower that Trump tried to pressure the Ukranian leader into investigating Joe Biden, one of his political opponents.

Every few weeks, we ask a political expert to weigh in on the odds that Donald Trump will be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, from one — meaning totally safe in the White House — to 100, meaning impeachment is imminent.

When we last checked on Sept. 14, CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor Elie Honig lowered the Impeach-O-Meter to 30 per cent.

This week, we asked Slate senior editor Dahlia Lithwick to give us her reading.

Here's part of what she told Day 6:

I'm going to start with the same caveat that I always use, which is that although I think it's now almost certain that the House is going to vote to advance articles of impeachment, I don't think the Senate is ever going to convict.

This all was triggered by this unbelievably incendiary whistleblower complaint that came out of the intelligence community.

By this week we learned of a telephone call between Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine in July, in which, essentially, the [U.S.] president conditioned almost $400-million of military aid — that had already been authorized — on Ukraine re-opening a "corruption investigation" into Joe Biden.

And I think the notion that we have a very clear-cut, easy narrative in which the President of the United States probably used his office to extort oppo research from an ally, I think it changed the needle for Nancy Pelosi.

So, where does Dahlia Lithwick place the odds of a Donald Trump impeachment this week?

"I put the probability at a whopping 89 per cent," she said.

That marks an increase of 59 points over the previous reading.

We'll continue to track the numbers in the weeks to come, and you can follow along here.

Editor's note: When we started the Impeach-O-Meter, we settled on getting people who watch U.S. politics closely to estimate the odds that Donald Trump's presidency would "end in impeachment." We've come to realize that it wasn't always clear whether that meant that the U.S. House of Representatives would vote to impeach him or that additionally, the U.S. Senate would vote to remove him from office as a result of being impeached by the House of Representatives. 

We've always intended that to mean being impeached by the House of Representatives, so for the sake of clarity, we've changed the language to "the odds that Donald Trump will be impeached by the House of Representatives." 

To hear Dahlia Lithwick give her latest Impeach-O-Meter reading, download our podcast or click Listen above.