Foreign bookmakers are offering betting opportunities for those who believe Donald Trump will be impeached as U.S. president. Ladbrokes, a UK bookmaker which has existed since 1886, posted 11-to-10 odds that Trump leaves office via resignation or “impeachment or removal“.
Those are almost even-money odds that the current President of the United States (POTUS) leaves office under disgrace and scandal. Ladbrokes bet on Donald Trump’s fall from power is more realistic than the one below, because it allows for impeachment after the 2018 midterm elections.
Paddy Power’s POTUS Wager
Paddy Power offers similar odds, though they are of a much shorter duraction. Paddy Power offers 4-to-1 odds that Donald Trump is impeached in the House of Representatives within the calendar year of 2017. Those odds are offered, despite the Republican Party controlling the House.
In the online gambling arena, Bovada offer $180 on a $100 bet that Donald Trump does not complete his 4-year term in office. The bet is off if Donald Trump dies while in office, but otherwise any form of removal is considered a win for the gambler. Because the most likely means of removal is covered under this bet, the Bovada POTUS bet might be the best option in the bunch.
Politico’s Reporting on Political Bets
Politico reported that the Trump Administration has been a windfall for the political proposition bets at most land-based sportsbooks and bookmaker websites.
Alex Donohue, manager of public relations for Ladbrokes, explained the reason for the high turnover on the political prop bets. Donohue told Politico, “From a betting perspective, Donald Trump’s presidency has triggered a massive boom for these kinds of markets. With Donald Trump, everything he does, it can be turn into speculation, and that can be turned into gambling.”
International gamblers wanting to bet at Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, or Bovada might be wondering how the above bets might play out. Since this blog covers the legal and political angle of online gambling, its writers follow politics in the United States. Since I’ve been through the much-debated American school system and have take a few civics and political science courses, here is analysis of those bets from an American’s perspective.
The Bovada bet requires some explaining which will inform the other bets, so let’s begin there. This wager is more open-ended, becuase it simply states that Donald Trump won’t finish his four-year term. Only death is deal-breaker.
That leaves several possibilities that Paddy Power and Ladbrokes don’t allow. Donald Trump is the oldest-ever person to be elected to a first term as US president. He is known to prefer McDonald’s hamburgers to healthy cuisine and he does not like exercise. Clearly, he’s at least 50 pounds overweight. While death is off-limits, resignation due to health reasons is a real possibility. That would require a debilitating condition, but it increases the odds this bet pays off.
The 25th Amendment Factor
The 25th Amendment might be a more important factor, though. Impeachment is a long and bruising process, even when the Congress is united in their will to end a presidency. Provisions of the 25th Amendment, enacted in 1968, are much quicker and more open-ended.
Under the 25th Amendment, if a majority of the Cabinet believes the president cannot fulfill his oath to the Constitution for medical reasons or other incapacity, then they can vote to replace him with the vice president. Mental instability is a possible reason to remove the president. Even if the Cabinet refused to do so, Vice President Mike Pence, working alongside the Congress, could remove a president with a vote in Congress.
How the 25th Amendment Works
Let us paint a theoretical scenario, based upon a common (if perhaps overwrought) fear. President Trump continues his fascination with the American nuclear arsenal. He contemplates using the bombs in a situation which calls for conventional military power. The Cabinet fears the president is mentally unstable, so they vote to remove him and replace him with Mike Pence. This would be constitutional, though highly controversial.
This is fraught with peril. The president would need to be determined mentally unstable by psychiatrists, a contention which is left to both objective and subjective analysis. If it was determined the POTUS was stable, then the Cabinet members and vice president would be guilty of a coup (and thus treason). Even if they were correct, the POTUS would have tens of millions of American voters who might feel they were disenfranchised. Political chaos might ensue, so this option is unlikely to occur, unless medical and health reasons were used.
The 25th Amendment clause has been invoked once, in 1981, when President Ronald Reagan was shot by a would-be assassin. Vice President George H.W. Bush was acting president for 12 hours, until Ronald Reagan came through surgery and was conscious again.
To assume that situation is going to happen, you have to assume Donald Trump is clinically insane and his Trump-appointed staff members would recognize that and remove him from office — probably not a big possibility. The important thing is the Bovada bet allows for this kind of transition of power. The Ladbrokes bet does not.
Ladbrokes: 11-to-10 Bet on Donald Trump
The Ladbrokes bet says the president has to leave office either because of impeachment or resignation. The 25th Amendment would not work, because it doesn’t involve the impeachment process. “Impeachment” is a legal term in the US Constitution, and it refers to charges being brought on a sitting president by the House of Representatives. If the House votes to impeach a president, then the Senate has a trial to hear the charges against the president. After a trial in the Senate, the full body of the Senate votes to convict or acquit the president.
Articles of impeachment have been voted in the House three times in America’s history: 1868 against Andrew Johnson, 1974 against Richard Nixon, and 1998 against Bill Clinton. In Nixon’s case, he resigned after the House voted 27-11 in the Judiciary Committee to impeach him. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton faced trial in the Senate, and were acquitted in both cases.
This is more likely to happen than the 25th Amendment, because it involves a more standard political procees. The most likely scenario would involve the Democrats winning control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm election, then investigating and impeaching President Trump sometime in 2019 or 2020. The Republicans are almost certain to retain control of the Senate in 2018, because only 8 Republicans Senators are up for reelection, compared to 25 for the Democrats.
Thus, the “removal” stipulation is important to this bet. No one imagines Donald Trump resigning after being impeached (as Nixon did), and thus the Republicans would have to vote to convict and remove their own president.
If the Republicans had lost the House of Representatives by this point, they might be fearful of losing the Senate and White House in 2020, and some might vote to convict President Trump. Such a scenario would leave Mike Pence as an imcumbant president to run on the 2020 ticket. Thus, the Ladbrokes bet is more realistic than the Paddy Power wager, though you must remember Republicans would have to turn on their president in this scenario.
Paddy Power: 4-to-1 Odds of Impeachment
The least realistic scenario is the Paddy Power prop bet, which I considered a bit of a sucker bet. This would require the Republicans to impeachment Donald Trump in 2017. While critics of the president might see his first 3 weeks in office as a time of instability and incompetence, international bettors should understand that is not the viewpoint of Donald Trump’s GOP voting base.
From their perspective, Donald Trump is fulfilling campaign pledges to limit immigration, build a southern border wall, remove regulations, limit the power of certain federal agencies, and replace Obamacare. The average Trump voter does not regret voting for him, and they think his time in office has been a vindication. In that atmosphere, Republican politicians who feared the Trump Effect before he was elected remain fearful to oppose Donald Trump. They realize impeaching Donald Trump would cost them many voters, and thus might end their political career.
For that reason, the chances that the GOP members of the House of Representatives and Senate are going to impeach Donald Trump in 2017 are microscopic. These people see their first real chance to change the basic laws of the United States since the GOP last controlled the White House, House of Reps, and Senate in 2005-2006. They want to use that opportunity, not squander it.
If an impeachment and conviction comes, it won’t be until after the Republican Party sees itself losing elections due to the Trump Effect. With gloom-and-doom predictions so recent in their memory, they’ll are not likely to be concerned with gloom-and-doom predictions of the moment. Only when they lose something will they grow fearful. Then, and only then, will they decide their president is a liability.