Historian Allan Lichtman was one of the few people to predict Donald Trump would win the presidential election. Lichtman’s guess was notable at the time because he has accurately predicted every presidential winner since 1984.
Now, the so-called “prediction professor” says Trump could be impeached. In his new book, The Case for Impeachment, Lichtman lays out why he thinks Trump might not make it to the end of his term in 2020.
Lichtman talked to Morning Shift host Jenn White about how he came to his conclusions and how Trump can avoid impeachment.
Here are some interview highlights.
On making the case for impeachment
Allan Lichtman: I examined the history of past impeachments -- notably that of Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon, who of course was nearly impeached; he resigned to avoid it. And I found many chilling parallels between Andrew Johnson and Richard Nixon on the one hand and Donald Trump on the other.
I examined the process of impeachment, and I examined Donald Trump’s entire history prior to the presidency, and I examined the first couple of months of his administration. And I was able to come up with some very serious ways in which Donald Trump did threaten our constitutional order, our liberties and now our national security.
Through that historical and contemporary study, I came up with eight separate grounds that made Donald Trump more vulnerable to impeachment than any first-term president in the history in our country.
Lichtman: If in fact members of Donald Trump’s (campaign) team colluded with Russia -- and there’s a lot of smoke there and there may well be some fire -- and if Donald Trump knew about it, he’s guilty of a serious crime. It’s called misprision of treason, the failure to report treasonous activity.
If in fact Donald Trump himself, heaven forbid, was involved in collusion, he could be the first president ever charged with treason, which is a specific ground for impeachment under the Constitution.
And look at how he’s responded. It’s been a Nixonian type of cover-up. Deceive, conceal, delay, deflect. And then when you’re caught, claim it was all innocuous anyway, just like Watergate was a third-rate burglary.
On business interests
Lichtman: Donald Trump didn’t divest himself of his business interests, so he profits from everything around the world and in the U.S. And there’s something that Americans may have heard about for the first time -- the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which says as president, you can’t take anything of value from a foreign government, entity or their agents. It’s an absolute prohibition and doesn’t require a quid pro quo.
And look what we saw. As president, Donald Trump recently got final approval for 38 potentially lucrative trademarks from China. Certainly, he’s already collided with the emoluments clause of the Constitution.
Comparisons to Nixon
Lichtman: They both see themselves as beset by enemies. They see themselves at war with the free press. They see themselves at war with an establishment that they believe has rejected them. Neither one has much fidelity to the Constitution, to the law or to the truth.
And perhaps most fundamentally, neither man is guided by a strong set of core principles other than what is good for themselves.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the 'play' button to listen to the entire interview.