An Irish bookmaker has increased its odds of President Donald Trump being impeached within his first term following the revelation that his son Donald Trump Jr. had met with a Russian source during the 2016 presidential race to obtain compromising information about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
On June 3, 2016, entertainment publicist Rob Goldstone contacted Trump Jr. and offered to introduce him to a so-called Russian government lawyer who claimed to have damaging information about Clinton, The New York Times reports.
"This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump," Goldstone wrote.
"If it's what you say I love it especially later in the summer," Trump Jr. responded within a few minutes.
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On June 9, 2016, Goldstone introduced Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya to Trump Jr., former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and current White House special adviser Jared Kushner at Trump Tower in Manhattan. Trump Jr. and Goldstone have both asserted that Veselnitskaya proved not to have any information about Clinton.
On July 11, Trump Jr. published his email chain with Goldstone on Twitter after being informed that The New York Times had obtained a copy of their conversation. The disclosure sparked immense controversy, with critics asserting it was evidence that the Trump campaign sought to collude with the Russian government's effort to meddle in the election.
On July 14, the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power responded to the headlines by increasing its odds for a Trump impeachment to 4/6. Those odds translate to a roughly 60 percent chance of the president being removed from office before finishing his first term, Newsweek reports.
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"He'd gone quiet over the last month, and we were starting to wonder if he might have ridden out the initial controversies -- but he's back with a bang today, and this could be the beginning of the end of the most unlikely president in history," a Paddy Power spokesperson said in a statement.
Paddy Power is also taking bets on the outcome of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's role during the 2016 election. The Irish bookmaker has set the odds of the federal probe unearthing evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia at 4/9, which equates to a 69 percent chance.
Chief global political analyst Tina Fordham of CitiBank also asserted in a note to clients that the Trump Jr. emails upped the possibility of impeachment, Business Insider reports.
"It is of course too soon to say, but we believe the risk of impeachment proceedings is now higher than before, even if still not our base case," Fordham wrote.
On July 14, the controversy surrounding Trump Jr. only deepened with the disclosure that Russian lobbyist and former Soviet military officer Rinat Akhmetshin had also attended the meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016, AP reports.
Akhmetshin has been accused of having contacts with Russian intelligence, which he has denied.
On July 13, Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman of California and Al Green of Texas submitted articles of impeachment to the House. The motion is largely a symbolic gesture, given that the Republican Party has a majority in both chambers of Congress.
"Impeachment proceedings will only gain traction ... when initiated by a Republican or Republicans," political science professor Renee Van Vechten of the University of Redlands told The Mercury News.