A Difficult 2019 Ahead for Trump

There are numerous issues of conflict between Donald Trump and the Democrats, who grabbed the House majority in last November’s midterms. They, and some Republican senators, have already bared their fangs with a resolution indicting the Saudi crown prince in the matter of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. Indeed, they have set the tone for the coming year, being more determined than ever to disrupt the White House occupant’s remaining term in office. Worse still, they may even try to shorten that term by initiating impeachment proceedings against the president. Although such an action has not yet been taken, leading Democrats have not entirely ruled it out, and have been steadily considering it; they are merely waiting to see if it would have a chance of succeeding, since the impeachment proceedings against Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 both failed.

The Democrats plan to ask President Trump for an explanation of America’s involvement in Saudi Arabian affairs, including Khashoggi’s murder and the war in Yemen, both of which heavily involve the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who enjoys protection from the current administration. Aimed at determining the Saudi crown prince’s role in these events in order to hold him accountable with the relevant judicial authorities, the Democrats’ joint resolution with Senate Republicans is only the beginning of their strategy, since an inquiry into these matters has already been opened in the House.

The other hot issue for Trump is that of his alleged collusion with the Russians during his 2016 election campaign. This matter is growing to disturbing proportions for Republicans after the latest admission by Michael Cohen, who has gone from being Trump’s personal lawyer and the very epitome of a Trump loyalist ready to “take a bullet” for his boss to become his most formidable accuser in the whole controversy. Cohen is now the key witness in Robert Mueller’s multifaceted investigation.

Contrary to what he told Congress earlier, Cohen admitted that his dealings with Moscow over a Trump tower project there continued late into Trump’s election campaign. Moreover, he admitted that he was approached in late 2015 by a Russian who proposed “political” cooperation with Trump’s election team. These revelations constitute real breakthroughs in Mueller’s investigation that could lead to Trump’s downfall.

Yet another issue at the heart of Trump’s battle with the Democrats is immigration, as shown by the incredible scene on Dec. 11 between the president and Democratic representatives in front of the press over his proposed border wall with Mexico. In a possible signal that border security will be his top priority, during the exchange with the Democrats, Trump threatened a government shutdown if the Democrats refused to fund the wall. Currently, only the encouraging economic statistics and good prospects for 2019 can save face for Trump and enable him to counter the Democrats while not alienating his own party.

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