Day 6

Trump's odds of staying in office: The Day 6 Impeach-O-Meter for October 11

This week, the White House formally refused to cooperate with the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. Constitutional law expert Bruce Ackerman delivers this week's reading.

Will White House efforts to stonewall the impeachment inquiry 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.

"The whole thing is a scam, it's a fix," Donald Trump said on Wednesday of the impeachment probe currently looking into whether the president abused the powers of his office for political gain. 

The day before, the White House sent a letter to the House of Representatives, calling the investigation an illegitimate effort that "violates the Constitution, the rule of law and every past precedent."

The letter also stated that the White House won't participate in the inquiry, a mandate carried out hours later as U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland was blocked by the State Department from giving testimony.

"The failure to produce this witness ... we consider yet additionally strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress, a coequal branch of government," said intelligence committee chair Adam B. Schiff.

What followed is a renewed call for impeachment, a wave of subpoenas and general confusion over just what will happen next.

So we're once again firing up the Day 6 Impeach-O-Meter.

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

When we last checked on September 27, Slate senior editor Dahlia Lithwick raised the Impeach-O-Meter to 89 per cent.

This week, we asked constitutional law expert Bruce Ackerman to give us his reading.

Here's part of what he told Day 6:

We have many constitutional crises in the United States; this is a revolutionary tradition unlike Canada. This one is not as big as many, but it could become bigger.

I would say that the real constitutional crisis here is the normalization of impeachment. With Richard Nixon, then Bill Clinton and now Donald Trump, however it comes out we are getting accustomed to a situation in which if the president is of one party, and Congress is of another party, impeachment is an ordinary weapon.

This would be a profound disruption of the American constitutional system.

Another frightening prospect is that the president, I very sadly predict, will divert attention from impeachment by generating crises in international affairs.

So, where does Bruce Ackerman place the odds of a Donald Trump impeachment this week?

"50 per cent," he said.

That marks a decrease of 39 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 Bruce Ackerman give his Impeach-O-Meter prediction, download our podcast or click Listen above.