- The new Congress has started and Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker. The Democratic majority was elected to restrain President Trump. They will have powers of appropriation, authorization, oversight and investigation. President Trump produced much of the political news during his first two years. But Congress and especially the House will now become a source of news and reaction. Mitch McConnell will have several more Trump-friendly members and two new Democrats from Arizona and Nevada. His larger majority should help on appointments, but as members face re-election in 2020, cracks already visible will widen (Cory Gardner and Susan Collins).
- The Trump stock market (his claim) has given back half its gains since his election and appears to have a very volatile 2019 ahead of it. Interest rate increases and tariffs are major challenges.
- Most importantly, the Mueller investigation is likely to end in 2019 with some additional indictments, pleas, sentencings and a report. There will also be a struggle over management of the Justice Department with a looming confirmation fight.
Trump’s main problem is that his believability has declined dramatically with all but his most committed supporters. His reputation for lying is now well-established and it makes his witch hunt claims against the investigation ring false with six out of 10 Americans. When asked in a USA Today/Suffolk University poll, 59 percent of the public offered “little or no trust” for Trump vs. 53 percent who said a “lot or some trust” for Mueller.
The major national polls asked Mueller investigation questions in their year-end polls and Trump did poorly: A majority approve of the investigation (56%, FOX News), a majority (58%, AP/NORC) believe he tried to obstruct the investigation.
- Approval of Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump campaign ties with Russia and obstruction of justice charges – 56% to 37% (FOX News poll, N1006, Dec. 9-11, 2018)
- Has the President tried to obstruct the investigation – 58% yes, 40% no (AP/NORC poll, N1067, Dec. 13-16, 2018)
- Trump’s statement that Russia did not try to interfere with the U.S. presidential election – Believe it – 15%, Republican 27%, Democrat 5% (Washington Post Fact Checker poll, N1025, Nov. 29-Dec. 10, 2018)
- Trump’s been honest and truthful in investigation – 62% no. Mueller investigation should end – 34% end, 45% continue (Wall Street Journal/NBC News, N900, Dec. 9-12, 2018)