Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Paul Manafort at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016.
In the tradition of the Clintonometer and the Trump Apocalypse Watch, the Impeach-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative daily estimate of the likelihood that Donald Trump leaves office before his term ends, whether by being impeached (and convicted) or by resigning under threat of same.
It makes sense why coverage of the meeting that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort held last June with a Russian lawyer who had promised to pass them damaging material about Hillary Clinton has focused on Trump Jr. The oldest Trump son is the one who set up the meeting and has been publicly (and ineptly) defending his decision to do so in recent days. Manafort’s involvement, though, is perhaps more consequential for the overarching question of whether the Trump campaign actively "colluded" with Russia. Though Trump Jr. made media appearances on his father’s behalf last year, he did not have a formal management role with the Trump campaign. If he had been the only one at the Russian-lawyer meeting, perhaps it could be brushed off as the inconsequential venture of an overeager family member. But at the time of the meeting, Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman. There is no plausible way the White House can distance itself from this meeting with a well-connected Russian who—per the New York Times’ reporting—had promised to reveal dirt about Hillary and seemed to be doing so in the hope that an eventual Trump administration would pursue more Russia-friendly policies.
At the same time, I can’t keep raising the likelihood of Trump’s impeachment every time some piece of damaging news about his campaign’s conduct and/or dishonesty comes out, because pretty soon the meter would be at like 700 percent. So, in the spirit of Zeno’s Paradox, I am declaring a semi-arbitrary rule that the meter can’t go over 60 until 1) rank-and-file Republican politicians start admitting that the Trump campaign may have engaged in collusion or 2) any official investigative body (special counsel, congressional committees) issues a report that says as much. Until that point, each scandalous news item will only get us halfway there.