The professor who took hell for predicting President Donald Trump has a much longer case for predicting President Mike Pence — and it’s all in his new book, out next week.
Allan Lichtman, a professor at American University, reached meme-status last fall for predicting long before anyone else that Trump would win, using a formula based on the popularity of the party in control of the White House that accurately predicted the eight previous presidential elections. Now Lichtman wants everyone to pay attention to the rest of what came through his crystal ball — that Trump will now be impeached
The people who paid attention only to the professor’s first prediction include the commander in chief, whom Lichtman says reached out to him during the transition.
“Taking time out of preparing to become the world’s most powerful leader, he wrote me a personal note, saying ‘Professor — Congrats — good call,’” Lichtman writes in “The Case for Impeachment,” an advance copy of which was shared with POLITICO. “What Trump overlooked, however, was my ‘next big prediction’: that, after winning the presidency, he would be impeached.”
Lichtman is clearly no Trump fan, writing at length about his discomfort with Trump’s opposition to the Paris Climate accord. He refers to Trump’s travel ban as “dimming the torch of liberty” and heads one section of the book, “Trump’s policies and appointments pose an existential threat to humanity.”
The book, rushed to the presses after the election, provides a brief history of the thinking that led the Framers to include impeachment, and the behavior that led presidents to get impeached — counting Richard Nixon along with Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton (the two presidents who didn’t resign before the Articles of Impeachment were read in the House), Lichtman points out that one out of every 14 presidents has been impeached: “gamblers have become rich betting on longer odds than that.”
With a heavy hmm, he cites Johnson’s obituary in The New York Times, which said the 17th president’s fatal flaw was “he was always headstrong, ‘sure he was right’ even in his errors.”
Several Democrats have predicted that the first thing they’d do if they win the House next year is impeach Trump. It may not take that long, Lichtman argues, writing that his book is meant to “explain how Trump threatens the institutions and traditions that have made America safe and free for 230 years, and I’ll make clear why a Republican Congress might impeach a president of its own party.”
Lichtman’s list of possible offenses that could get Trump to that point are familiar: charges of treason with Russia, abuse of power and emoluments violations. Lichtman also cites now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then a senator, who argued that a president could be impeached for offenses committed before he took office. Among those potential offenses, Lichtman lists Trump’s housing violations, charity problems, potential violations of the Cuba embargo and Trump University.
It’s all part of a brief — designed to be damning — tour through Trump’s history. It includes section headings like “Trump Towers Become Vacant Lots” and “Lying His Way to the Presidency.” It eventually leads Lichtman to the conclusion that Trump might serve himself up for impeachment: “Trump’s disregard for lying in sworn testimony, examined in the context of the Bill Clinton precedent, shows how Trump’s opponents could set an impeachment trap for him through a civil lawsuit.”
Imagine, Lichtman writes, if Trump gets Congress to lift sanctions against Russia by lying about some promise made by Vladimir Putin, or shakes the economy by lying about Bureau of Labor Statistics employment numbers.
Lichtman’s advice to Trump to avoid his prediction is a checklist that includes divesting, supporting the Paris Climate accord, using a fact-checker and treating women with respect. He also dares Trump to “add a shrink to the White House physicians.”
“Opponents will challenge your decision-making abilities and claim that they were right all along about your temperamental unfitness for the presidency, yet you have survived and thrived by defying the conventional political wisdom. Why not do it again?”
He also encourages Trump to “curb the Mussolini act” and fire chief strategist Steve Bannon.
President Andrew Johnson “showed how an impeachment and trial could benefit the nation,” Lichtman writes at one point. And he’s clearly rooting for that to happen now.
“Justice will be realized in today’s America not through revolution, but by the Constitution’s peaceful remedy of impeachment,” he concludes the book, “but only if the people demand it.”