This is the time of year when we tend to hear a lot of predictions about what will happen in the new year. I’m not someone who tends to forecast the future, but there are a couple of things that are pretty much guaranteed to be major news items in 2019.
The bad news is that, unless he is removed from office via impeachment or invocation of the 25th amendment, Donald Trump will continue to be president. Those who predict (or hope) that he will voluntarily resign from office haven’t been paying attention to what we know about the man who currently occupies the Oval Office. Here’s what Tony Schwartz, ghostwriter of Art of the Deal, wrote about him.
To survive, I concluded from our conversations, Trump felt compelled to go to war with the world. It was a binary, zero-sum choice for him: You either dominated or you submitted. You either created and exploited fear, or you succumbed to it…Trump grew up fighting for his life and taking no prisoners. In countless conversations, he made clear to me that he treated every encounter as a contest he had to win, because the only other option from his perspective was to lose, and that was the equivalent of obliteration.
For a man who thinks that losing is the equivalent of obliteration, backing down is not an option. Instead, we can expect Trump to get worse—which is something I have been predicting since he walked into the White House for the first time. The president doesn’t have the ability to self-correct or learn from his mistakes. As pressure continues to mount, he will simply double-down on his most erratic and explosive behavior. That doesn’t bode well for what we will see from him in 2019.
One of the main reasons the pressure will continue to mount on Trump is the endless stream of investigations he faces into both his past as well as his time as president. The foremost among those is the Muller probe, which is very likely to come to fruition in 2019. How that will unfold is one of the many unknowns we face this year, but it will obviously contribute to the president’s unstable behavior.
We don’t know the extent of what Mueller has uncovered during this investigation because, for whatever reason, he has kept most of it under wraps from the beginning. Any assumptions about what the special counsel does or does not know about a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow are therefore completely unfounded.
What we do know is that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election, the Trump campaign was loaded with people who had deep connections with the Kremlin, there were multiple meetings between Russians and campaign staff during the course of the campaign and transition, people involved in those meetings consistently lied about them, and the Trump administration has done everything possible to obstruct the investigation. In addition, Trump’s foreign policy has aligned almost completely with Vladimir Putin’s goals, while the president has done nothing to protect U.S. elections from further attempts to interfere. Mueller’s job will be to connect those dots, and hopefully tell the story that explains it all. What happens from there is anybody’s guess.
Of course, Mueller’s investigation isn’t the only one. U.S. Attorneys in the Southern District of New York already have evidence that Trump engaged in campaign finance violations via testimony from Michael Cohen. But that is probably the tip of the iceberg of what they are looking into when it comes to the president’s former business practices. Over the holidays, the New Jersey field office started an investigation of their own.
New Jersey prosecutors have collected evidence that supervisors at President Trump’s Garden State golf club may have committed federal immigration crimes — and the FBI as well as special counsel Robert Mueller have played part in the inquiry, the Daily News has learned.
Anibal Romero, a Newark attorney who represents several undocumented immigrants who used to work at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, said Friday he recently met with investigators from the state attorney general’s office and handed over fraudulent green cards and Social Security numbers that management at the club allegedly procured and gave his clients, Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz.
In addition, there are the investigations into the Trump Foundation, and other inquiries that will be launched by the New York State Attorney General, as well as the suit against the president for violation of the emoluments clause in the Constitution. But perhaps the biggest news for 2019 will be the fact that Democrats now hold a majority in the House of Representatives and are prepared to launch their own investigations, including—but not limited to—activities of the Trump administration.
What all of this comes down to is that the biggest story of the year will be that—heading into the third year of his tenure—Donald Trump will be the most investigated president in the history of this country. That isn’t the result of a Democratic plot, but the fact that the current occupant of the White House is a mob-like figure who has overseen an administration that isn’t just incompetent, but has shown very little respect for the rule of law.
There are still a lot of unknowns about what will happen in 2019. But the combination of the pressure of these investigations with the president’s increasing volatility indicate that we are in for a very bumpy ride this year, and no one can reasonably predict how it will all end.