Does House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have the numbers in the full House to impeach President Donald Trump?
The answer to that is a very probable yes.
However — as we’ve seen with the rush toward impeachment ever since a mundane presidential phone call occurred on July 25 of this year — other developments could be surprising as well.
Based on the numbers and the members of Congress involved, and on data from public sources, here are three possible scenarios in play, according to this analyst.
1.) Probable: The House sends the Senate two articles of impeachment within a week of Christmas.
Pelosi needs a simple majority of 216 of the House’s 431 current members to impeach Trump. There are 233 Dems and 2 have said already that they will not vote to impeach.
One other member, Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), announced he will vote to impeach.
So, she has 232 in her pocket.
She can lose 16 and squeak it through. But losing 17 is death for her.
Thirty-one Dem House members represent districts that Trump won in the 2016 election. Pelosi can give a pass to 10 of those — thus saving them the ire of their districts and possibly her speakership, and still have six to spare.
But less than 10 come from districts Trump won by double digits. So eight will get the waiver. She’ll lose three more from defections but will gain two Republicans.
So the Dems could impeach the president on both counts by 8-12 votes. Then the vote goes in the Senate.
After a three-week trial, it’s 52-48 for the president.
That’s nowhere near the 67 against him that is needed for removal from office.
2.) Possible: Reading the tea leaves, Pelosi makes it known she will not whip the vote on one of the articles of impeachment (probably the nebulous abuse of power charge).
Pelosi proceeds with a censure on that and gets it easily.
But in this scenario, her hesitancy on the subject in general sends shivers through Democrat ranks. One or two prominent Dems privately refuse to back impeachment because of the political cost.
Pelosi then strong-arms them — and they do not go public.
When the vote is taken, she wins by 5-8 votes on one article but the win is so close she is politically hobbled and takes heat for it.
The single count goes into the Senate — to die a quick death by acquittal vote before a trial or after a brief trial.
3.) Unlikely: Dems fear the wrath of the voters and get cold feet entirely.
Pelosi loses control of the caucus as Democrat freshmen and moderates publicly plot with GOP moderates to introduce harsh motions of censure of the president.
One of her leadership team defects and does not go public — but tells Pelosi he or she will unless she backs off the full House vote.
To kill the avalanche before it starts, Pelosi advocates censure on both counts and claims she’s doing it to spare the American people the trauma of a Senate trial.
She is lying.
Perhaps some of this is the stuff of political fiction more than actual fact.
But so is the impeachment of a duly elected president of the United States over a single phone call.