This is not a prediction. This is simply a reminder — recurring elections are not immutable laws of physics.
Of course Donald Trump will be impeached if he fires the special counsel. That is what ultimately happened to Nixon. That is the precedent.
What did the vast majority of the American political punditry think a year ago today? Donald Trump cannot win a presidential election. He is a buffoon. He is too cartoonish, too outlandish, too unstable. He is too racist. He is too sexist. He is too fascist.
What did the American political punditry think when Donald Trump descended the escalator in Trump tower twenty-seven months ago? There’s no way Trump is a serious candidate for the presidency. He is not serious. The American public will not take him seriously. It is a joke.
What did the American political punditry think twenty-six months ago when Trump insulted leading establishment Republican, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, former presidential candidate, John McCain — saying he liked people who weren’t captured? Trump does not have a chance.
What did the American political punditry think twenty-four months ago, when Trump called for a total and complete shut-down of Muslims entering the United States? This is not what America stands for. There’s no way he can win.
What did the American political punditry think twenty-three months ago when Trump failed to demonstrate he knew what the nuclear triad was? He’s politically and militarily illiterate. He’s too inexperienced. There’s no way.
What did the American political punditry think twenty-two months ago before the primaries began? There’s no way Donald Trump can win the Republican primary. Rubio or Cruz are bound to win — they actually have experience in political office. There’s no way.
What did the American political punditry think twenty months ago when, in an MSNBC town hall, Trump said he could not take the use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and Europe off the table? He’s too unstable. No one would trust him with the nuclear codes. There’s no way.
What did the American political punditry think fifteen months ago when Trump picked a fight with a Gold Star Muslim family who spoke out against him at the Democratic National Convention? He’s gone too far. There’s no way.
What did the American political punditry, and the American public, and you and me and just about everyone watching, think when the Access Hollywood tape was leaked? Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. There’s no way Trump can win now.
I keep coming back to this one. It got me too. I thought it was over. I thought it was over for Trump because we could all see — or more accurately, hear — the proof. Yes, Trump is a serial sexual abuser of women. Untold, countless women. The tape was proof. The tape was a direct confession. It played over the networks all weekend. We could all hear it. It was real.
No one doubted it. Perhaps they were out there, but I heard of no conspiracies, even from the alt-right, from Trump’s base, that the tape was fixed. That it wasn’t really his voice. That he did not really confess to molesting countless, untold women because he felt he was powerful enough to get away with it. No, it was real — but it was just locker-room talk.
Less than a month later, the American public elected Donald Trump to the most powerful office in the world. Yes, Clinton won the popular vote by three million. Yes, the electoral college is profoundly, inherently flawed. But Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States. America handed him the nuclear codes.
What if Donald Trump fires Robert Mueller, and nothing ultimately happens? What if he fires the man investigating him and remains president?
What if the long-complicit Republican congress impeaches him, but the long-complicit Republican senate does not convict him? What if the long-complicit Republican congress does not impeach him at all? What if the Democrats take the house next year, but not the senate, impeach Trump, and cannot convict him? What if the Democrats do not take the house next year, and the long-complicit Republicans continue to stand by him?
What if Trump does not resign, or have a heart attack, runs in 2020, and wins again?
No one is prepared for these possibilities. They seem impossible. Fantastical. Alarmist. So did Donald Trump becoming president of the United States.
Trump could avoid impeachment, and win re-election. There are two quite realistic and increasingly likely ways he could do so — a major terrorist attack, a war, or more probably, a combination of both.
Trump cannot fire Robert Mueller and get away with it. There’s no way.
But what if there was another Orlando-scale terrorist attack by a Muslim (unlike the Vegas or Texas shooter) during Trump’s term? What if there was a Paris-scale attack? What if there was another 9/11-scale attack, with thousands of innocents dead and a major symbol of American empire leveled to the ground? What if — and this is far from outside the realm of possibility — there was a terrorist attack that kills significantly more innocent Americans than 9/11? What if a dirty bomb goes off in New York or Washington, and Donald Trump must prove to the American public that his administration will exact revenge and keep America safe at all costs? The country rallies around the flag and accepts Trump as the merciless commander-in-chief needed in such dangerous times.
Would a Republican congress impeach their own president then?
What if Donald Trump escalates tensions on the Korean peninsula until the outbreak of war? What if Trump launches a pre-emptive strike on North Korea after an atmospheric nuclear test, or ICBM test gone wrong that sends debris crashing into Japan? What if North Korea is seen as striking first in a Gulf of Tonkin-type event? Trump vows revenge and wages a war to wipe out Kim Jong-un’s regime. The country rallies around the flag and accepts Trump as the merciless commander-in-chief needed in such dangerous times.
Would a Republican congress impeach their own president then?
The wars Trump begins rage into 2020 as the war-time president exacts revenge and devastates America’s enemies.
Is Trump guaranteed to lose in 2020 then?
The wars continue. Trump’s second term draws to a close. The president declares via emergency powers, granted to him by a war-mongering congress, that the national security risk is too grave, continuity of leadership is needed to win America’s wars — elections will have to wait.
Ask the Weimar Republic. Elections are not immutable laws of physics.
* Note: You can replace the word Trump with Pence in the second last paragraph if Trump resigns, and there is no guarantee whoever eventually replaces Pence would not be even worse.