I said that I wouldn’t make any New Years predictions, but I’m going to make a couple. First, Trump will not be impeached and won’t be removed by the 25th Amendment—at least not as long as Republicans control Congress. Second, he’s not going to change. So just buckle up for the year ahead.
Trump is going to continue to be Trump. He’s not going to let up on twitter and he’s not going to moderate his feed. Trump is, at heart, a showman, not a politician or leader. His goal is attention and he wants to dominate the public conversation. His audience now includes people across the world, not just those who watch reality TV.
That’s bad for Republicans. They’re feeling confident after passing tax reform and anxious to move on to other policy proposals like cutting Social Security, Medicare and food stamps. They’ll have to compete with Trump for attention and spend time figuring out how distance themselves from his most controversial actions while not drawing his ire. He makes governing very difficult for a party that’s already having trouble unifying itself enough to get much done.
Trump’s not going to be impeached. Republicans in Congress face an uphill battle in the 2018 elections and dumping Trump would give them even more trouble. While he may have the lowest approval ratings of any president in history at this point in his tenure, he also has a base that is solidly behind him. If the establish Republicans try to throw him overboard, they’ll face a revolt from their base. Trump may be a drag on the 2018 ticket but they can’t afford to lose the 30% or so of the population that stands adamantly behind him.
After Trump’s tweets threatening nuclear war with North Korea this week, speculation about his sanity is running high. Politico says a group of Senators invited a psychiatrist to brief them on Trump’s mental state. She apparently told them that he’s unstable and is “going to unravel,” leading to a discussion about the provision in the 25th Amendment that allows for removal of the president if the vice president and a majority of the cabinet decide he’s mentally or physically unfit. Again, that’s not going to happen. Mike Pence might want to be president but if he leads the effort to remove Trump, he’ll never get through a Republican primary.
So, expect 2018 to look a lot like 2017 except with elections. Republicans in Congress will try to pass something significant while fighting for attention with Trump. The Mueller investigation will continue but don’t expect any action from Congress. It’s more likely that the investigation unveils shady financial dealings between Trump, Inc. and the Russians than evidence that campaign collusion upended the election. If that’s true then the people in the Trump business organization will fall before the president does. And the GOP won’t act on any of Trump’s actions before November, regardless of what the investigation finds or recommends.