The rise and reign of Donald Trump has already earned its place as one of the most dramatic political stories in modern American history. The question now: How will it end?
After a dizzying 10 days of bombshell revelations in the press and multiplying scandals at the White House, the Justice Department announced Wednesday night that a special counsel had been appointed to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, including its alleged ties to the Trump campaign. This latest development all but ensures that Washington will remain in the grips of crisis and controversy for the foreseeable future—but what happens next is an open question.
In a range of interviews with Capitol Hill Republicans, Trump allies, and veterans of past presidential scandals, there was broad consensus on only one point: The fate of the Trump presidency has never been more uncertain.
But past presidencies, and Trump’s own record in public life, suggest four dramatically different alternatives that may play out in the months and years to come.
Trump Is Impeached
Impeachment has been a Democratic fantasy since before Trump even took office, and most serious political observers have dismissed it as a daydream—at least as long as Congress is controlled by Republicans. There is good reason for skepticism. The last (and only) president to be impeached by lawmakers of his own party was Andrew Johnson, in 1867. A century and a half later, the Republican caucus has become generally quite adept at partisan water-carrying.