WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Donald Trump sent a very clear warning in an interview with “Fox and Friends” host Ainsley Earhardt on Thursday: Impeach me and watch things go to Hell.
“I tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor, because without this thinking, you would see — you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe in reverse,” Trump said.
While in Scotland on a golfing trip, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, as he often does, echoed his boss’s thinking. “You’d only impeach him for political reasons, and the American people would revolt against that,” predicted Giuliani in an interview with Sky News.
Markets would crash! Everyone would be poor! People would revolt!
Hyperbolic language is something of a norm in this White House — everything Trump does is the BIGGEST or the BEST or MOST HISTORIC — but even by those exaggerated standards, the hellscape that Trump and Giuliani paint if Democrats try to impeach the President feels like a step further than they’ve gone before.
The “why” is pretty clear: Republicans badly need their base energized in advance of the 2018 midterms. A series of special elections over the past two years have shown considerable Democratic over-performance, a sign that the Democratic base is passionate about voting — hoping to send a very clear message of disapproval to the President and his administration.
Impeachment, Trump and Giuliani believe, is their silver bullet. Democrats don’t like how the last election turned out, so they’re trying to overturn it. Don’t let them! You get the idea.
But with the midterms so close at hand, the President is turning the rhetoric WAY up to make that point. Subtlety is out the window. In its place is fear. Like your life the way it is? Better vote for Republicans. If not, you will be “very poor.” People will be rioting in the streets. Undocumented immigrants will swarm the borders. It’s the stuff of nightmares for many people. And if the 2016 election taught us anything, it’s that fear is a very powerful voting motivator.
Democratic leaders know — and worry about — the power of Trump’s politics of fear. It’s why leading liberals like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have been very wary of talking much at all about impeachment in the run-up to the 2018 election.
The Point: The world won’t end if Democrats take over the House. Or even if that Democratic House votes to impeach Trump. (The Senate, where the impeachment case would be heard, is still more likely than not to be in Republican hands in 2019.) It would, of course, be a major political upheaval that would likely worsen our already terrible polarization. But we’d all soldier on. Trump — and Giuliani — know that, it’s just not in their political interest to say so.
Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
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