What REALLY happens if Donald Trump is impeached over Michael Cohen scandal – and is he likely to survive it?

TRUMP's personal lawyer finally flipped on Tuesday afternoon, testifying under oath that the president directed him to commit a crime.

Michael Cohen's acknowledgement that hush-money payments constituted illegal campaign contributions arguably brought the president closer to impeachment than ever before.

The payments were made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who both claimed to have had affairs with Trump.

But Trump is working with a Republican-controlled Congress, making any impeachment unlikely.

That could all change after the November midterm elections.

Best-guess forecasts suggest Democrats could wrestle control of Congress from Trump's party.

The strength of that victory may dictate whether the Democrats take the step.

However, the same forecast suggests Republicans have a good chance of maintaining control of the Senate – the upper chamber.

This is where any impeachment is likely to fall over.

The US Constitution dictates the House of Representatives vote to impeach, but it's the Senate which actually tries the case.

And for any impeachment to be successful a two-thirds vote is necessary – which has never happened before.

Republicans have remained loyal to Trump so far, even in the face of falling voter opinion, so this majority seems unlikely.

So it looks like Trump will survive regardless of whether an impeachment is attempted.

The US Constitution states a president "shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours".

Whether illegal campaign contributions in the form of hush-money payments fits this description will likely be decided in the public arena.

As Rudy Giuliani, the president's current personal attorney, was quick to point out:

"There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government's charges against Mr. Cohen."

Of course, Robert Muller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian agents to influence the 2016 presidential election is ongoing.

It has already put Cohen on the stand, and seen former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort convicted of eight criminal charges.

None of these related to the main thrust behind the probe, but they were still a significant notch on Muller's belt and proved Trump's team are not untouchable.

It's not over for the long-term Washington lobbyist either – a second trial for money laundering, acting as an unregistered foreign agent, conspiracy to defraud the US, making false statements and witness tampering will begin next month.

Muller still has plenty of leads to follow, including what happened during a pre-election meeting between the president's son and a Russian lawyer.



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Trump was also accused of demanding FBI director James Comey abandon a probe into his top adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump eventually fired Flynn on February 13 on grounds that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russians.

So while Trump looks likely to weather the Cohen scandal, he's not out of the woods yet.

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