The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump impeachment odds hit record after Helsinki, says Irish bookmaker

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a soccer ball to U.S. President Donald Trump during a news conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on July 16. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

Place your bets.

Not on the World Cup. (Didn’t you hear? France triumphed.) Not on your favorite thoroughbred. (The Kentucky Derby isn’t until next spring.)

No, punters in Britain and Ireland are putting up money 2 to 1 on President Trump’s impeachment, according to Paddy Power, a bookmaker that manages betting shops in Britain and Ireland and that runs Ireland’s largest telephone betting service.

New confidence appears to stem from Trump’s appearance Monday in Helsinki, where he stood beside Vladimir Putin and seemed to take the Russian president’s word, over that of his own intelligence agencies, that the Russians had not interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. When he found himself under an avalanche of bipartisan criticism Tuesday, Trump said he accepted the intelligence community’s findings and sought to explain away his earlier remarks using syntactic somersaults.

“What this whole Moscow gruel has taught us is that the Donald is still the biggest ticket in town — and people love to bet on his downfall,” said Lee Price, a spokesman for Paddy Power. The gambling site has capitalized on the unpredictable nature of the Trump presidency, offering bets on scenarios such as “When will Sean Spicer leave/get sacked as White House press secretary.”

The odds that Trump is impeached are now 2 to 1, or 33 percent, Price told The Washington Post, compared with 4 to 1, or 20 percent, on Monday before the news conference.

“Given the complexity of the impeachment process, that’s an unprecedented price in terms of how short it is,” Price said. “No president in modern history has had such short odds.”

Betters also think there is a decreased chance that Trump finishes his first term and an increased chance that he resigns.

Price said that Trump’s undoing has been a popular bet ever since he took office: “Since Trump’s inauguration, we’ve had more bets on his impeachment than we’ve had on any Brexit market, any U.K. election market, or any of the other 100 or so specials we have on-site about the president.”

Gambling laws differ across U.S. states but mostly restrict betting to sports and games of chance. A comparable assessment of odds is therefore elusive.

Away from betting houses and in the halls of Congress, however, talk of impeachment was muted.

Democrats sought to make hay of the president’s performance, seeing an opportunity to gain ground in midterm elections. But beyond longtime proponents of impeachment, such as Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California, few hopped on the bandwagon. One who did was Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, a Democratic Senate candidate, though he clarified that he would not run on the issue.

Democratic leaders have kept at arm’s length the campaign to oust the president through non-electoral means, a cause championed by Tom Steyer, a California billionaire.

A U.S. president has never been removed in such a way. The House brought impeachment charges against Bill Clinton and in the 19th century against Andrew Johnson. But the Senate did not convict in either case.

The country — nay, the world — is again debating whether Trump has gone too far. Betting types on the other side of the Atlantic have no special insight into that question. But some could get rich depending on its answer.