The walls appear to be closing in on President Donald Trump this week—following his outrageous equivocation on white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia—as public support for impeachment grows, predictions of resignation surface, and his political isolation intensifies.
A new poll from Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that 40 percent of Americans support impeaching Trump and removing him from office, a 10-point jump in a mere six months, NBC News reported Wednesday.
That number now could be much higher, though, as the poll was conducted before last weekend's deadly demonstrations in Charlottesville, and Trump's troubling responses, which have evoked intense criticism from the public, as well as Democratic and Republican politicians.
As the majority of Americans expressed disapproval of Trump's response to Charlottesville, House Democrats on Wednesday moved to censure and condemn the president for doubling down on his claim that "both sides" were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville.
On Monday, Trump had read a carefully prepared statement in which he "finally did the absolute bare minimum" and denounced the white supremacists by name—but the public response was clear: "Not good enough." "Insufficient." "Too little, too late."
But his speech about infrastructure on Tuesday quickly turned into a discussion about Charlottesville, and the president reverted to "words that regressed to Saturday's ad-libbed false equivalence," as Megan Garber wrote for The Atlantic. As she observed:
Tuesday's press conference will very likely be remembered as a moment of extreme moral clarity—the moment in which the emperor, speaking in his golden chamber with the aid of scrolls and servants, revealed himself, once again, for what he is.
In light of all the swirling anti-Trump sentiment—following months of historically low approval ratings—The Hill reported on Thursday that Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn) will introduce articles of impeachment based on Trump's defense of the white supremacists. Rep. Cohen said in a statement:
Instead of unequivocally condemning hateful actions by neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and Klansmen following a national tragedy, the President said 'there were very fine people on both sides.' There are no good Nazis. There are no good Klansmen.... President Trump has failed the presidential test of moral leadership.
Although the announcement comes on the heels of impeachment articles filed last month—which accused Trump of "obstructing justice during the federal investigation of Russia's 2016 election interference"—it also comes amid reports that the president is becoming increasingly isolated within the West Wing and from his fellow Republicans.
Trump continues to lash out at those who criticize his handling of Charlottesville.
"Still smarting from the controversy over his apparent reluctance to condemn the white supremacists behind much of the violence, Mr. Trump posted a series of tweets criticizing two senior senators," The Independent reported Thursday. "The first tweet was posted at around 6am."
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Publicity seeking Lindsey Graham falsely stated that I said there is moral equivalency between the KKK, neo-Nazis & white supremacists......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
After "a fast-growing exodus" of business leaders from his Strategy and Policy Forum, and Manufacturing Jobs Initiative—which were already considering disbanding in response to Trump's Charlottesville remarks—the president tweeted Wednesday that he would disband the two business councils.
Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2017
The "uproar" over Trump's Charlottesville commentary, which has consumed the White House and the Republican Party, has left Trump's Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly "deeply frustrated and dismayed just over two weeks into his job," the Washington Post reported.
"The episode also underscored the difficult challenges that even a four-star general faces in instilling a sense of order around Trump, whose first instinct when cornered is to lash out, even self-destructively," the Post noted.
Talking Points Memo reported on Thursday that frustration is not contained to Gen. Kelly: "While the president defiantly stews in his own anger, his staff has become increasingly wary of remaining in the administration, though most have come to the conclusion that now is not the time to leave."
Despite growing resistance to Trump among White House staff and Republican legislators, impeachment efforts could be nullified if Trump decides to quit first. Although predictions have been circulating for months that he "won't make it four years," on Wednesday, his Art of the Deal co-author Tony Schwartz posited on Twitter that the president will resign "by fall, if not sooner."
The circle is closing at blinding speed. Trump is going to resign and declare victory before Mueller and congress leave him no choice.— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) August 16, 2017
Trump's presidency is effectively over. Would be amazed if he survives till end of the year. More likely resigns by fall, if not sooner.— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) August 16, 2017
Schwartz's recent tweets echo statements the co-author made in May: "I surely believe that at some point over the next period of time he's going to have to figure out a way to resign," Schwartz said, adding that in quitting, Trump will try to "figure out a way, as he has done all his career, to turn a loss into a victory so he will declare victory when he leaves."