Trump's odds of staying in office: The Day 6 Impeach-O-Meter for December 7
Mueller issued multiple sentencing memos this week. Will that move the needle?
When Donald Trump generates headlines, Day 6 fires up the "Impeach-O-Meter," inviting political experts to estimate the odds his presidency will end in impeachment. These are, of course, subjective and hypothetical scores and the impeachment process is complex and dependent on many factors.
In a sentencing memo released on Tuesday, U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommended that former U.S. national security advisor Michael Flynn receive no jail time after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia in December 2017.
Mueller's reasoning: Flynn provided so much substantial, first-hand information about interactions between Russian government officials and U.S. President Donald Trump's transition team.
On Friday, Mueller filed two more sentencing memos. One of those was for President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen. That filing suggests Cohen sought to "criminally influence" the 2016 U.S. election, committed illegal campaign finance violations directed by President Trump, and potentially, cooperated with a "trusted person" in the Russian Federation.
The Special Counsel's office also filed a brief about Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort. While the majority of that filing is redacted, it does say that Manafort lied to the Special Council multiple times, including about contacts with an employee alleged to have Russian intelligence ties.
Late last month, the president didn't rule out the possibility of a pardon for Manafort, and on Monday, he tweeted that his former campaign advisor, Roger Stone, had "guts" for saying that he refused to testify against the president.
Some suggest both scenarios amount to witness tampering.
That's why we're once again firing up the Day 6 Impeach-O-Meter with Elizabeth Holtzman, a former Democratic Congresswoman who was part of the House Judiciary Committee that moved to impeach President Nixon in the Watergate scandal.
Every few weeks, we check in on the odds of U.S. President Donald Trump being impeached, from one, meaning totally safe in the White House, to 100, meaning impeachment is imminent.
When we last checked in, Matt Ford, opinion writer for the Washington Post, put the odds of impeachment at 25 per cent — a 10 per cent decrease over the previous prediction.
Here's what Elizabeth Holtzman had to say:
This past week or so has created very serious problems for Donald Trump, our president, and one of the grounds for impeachment of Richard Nixon that we voted for was that the president dangled pardons in front of the Watergate burglars in order to obtain their silence.
I think we now have a very, very clear indication that the president has stepped over the impeachment line by saying that he's not going to take a pardon for Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager, off the table. Again, his efforts that some may view as tampering with witnesses, with regard to Roger Stone and Paul Manafort. The president takes an oath of office, and you can't take care that laws with regard to criminality are being faithfully executed if you are encouraging witnesses not to cooperate with prosecutors.
Finally, with regard to Michael Flynn, the news that he substantially cooperated with prosecutors indicates that he gave them an important amount of information and important information. The real question, which we don't yet know, is whether Flynn personally implicated the President of the United States or not, but it certainly is looking a lot clearer that there could well have been a quid pro quo between the Russian government and Donald Trump himself and his campaign.
So, where does Elizabeth Holtzman place the probability of a Donald Trump impeachment this week?
"The number is well over 50 per cent. Probably in the 70 per cent area."
That marks an increase of 45 per cent to 70 per cent.
We'll continue to track the numbers in the weeks to come and you can follow along here.
To hear Elizabeth Holtzman give her Impeach-O-Meter prediction, download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.