No US president has been convicted and removed from office, but betting markets on the prospects of President Donald Trump’s impeachment opened almost immediately after he became president. So, what are the prospects?

Speculation about Trump being impeached by Congress has run far ahead of careful analysis, according to a new report by the CEO of the United States Studies Centre, Professor Simon Jackman. Using the three available historical cases of impeachment proceedings (Johnson, Nixon and Clinton), Professor Jackman said a Trump impeachment remains a remote prospect.

"The current configuration of American political institutions – a Republican president and Republican majorities in both House and Senate – suggest it is extremely unlikely that President Trump will be impeached or convicted in the current Congress," Jackman said.

"Even if an impeachment vote could get to the floor of the House of Representatives and all of the 193 Democrats in the House voted for impeachment, at least 25 Republicans would have to vote for it. But Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is 85 per cent, so few, if any, will support impeachment."

Jackman's report also compares the investigations run by Special Counsel Robert Mueller (tasked with looking at the ties between the Trump campaign and Russia) and Kenneth Starr (independent counsel investigating a series of allegations against the Clintons and their associates). 

"Mueller has less autonomy than did Starr. This suggests that Mueller’s investigation may be completed more expeditiously than either the Watergate investigation or the series of investigations by Starr," he said.

Key points

  • Based on this intensely partisan nature of impeachment votes in the Nixon and Clinton cases, Republican numbers in the House and Senate make it extremely unlikely Trump will be impeached or convicted by the current Congress.
  • Trump’s approval numbers lie around the 40 per cent mark, low by historical standards for a president this early in his term, but not so low that Republicans will move against him.
  • The outcome of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and the 2018 midterm elections could alter the likelihood of a Trump impeachment.

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