Trump's domestic problems and China

By George N. Tzogopoulos
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, August 30, 2018
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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in Washington D.C., the United States, Aug. 17, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

The current juncture is delicate for Donald Trump's political future. Some of his former aides are involved in several crimes. Trump's longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to eight counts including violating campaign laws and former campaign manager Paul Manafort has also been found guilty of tax fraud. Additionally, one of the first politicians to endorse Trump in February 2016, Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter and his wife have been indicting for using campaign funds to finance personal expenses and a luxury life. 

The subsequent question is what repercussions these cases might portend for the American President himself. Although Trump is not clearly named in the allegations, his alleged connection is being closely monitored by his opponents. The confession of Cohen that he paid off two women in exchange for their silence regarding their sexual encounters with Trump is leading some legal scholars to argue that Trump is equally guilty. The American President is attempting to downplay Cohen's confession and recently said in a Fox News interview that what matters is that the money had not come out of the campaign.

Generally speaking, a sitting President cannot be easily indicted. Trump's new lawyer Rudy Giuliani has publicly said that the team of special counsel Robert Mueller would abide by relevant regulations of the Justice Department. Several American media do not thus consider it likely for an indictment to follow. 

On these grounds, the current legal cases will hardly jeopardize Trump's presidency. The main danger for the President is for them to be followed by new troubles related to the investigation on Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential election of November 2016. Should evidence be found about his and his team's alleged secret contacts with the Russian side and obstruction of justice, his woes will heat up. An impeachment is not excluded. An analysis by the Brookings Institution suggests the Russian hacking theme could provide the necessary ground indeed. Trump has publicly talked about this scenario and warned on Fox News the "market would crash," if he was impeached. 

The process is difficult and time-consuming. There are only three examples of presidential impeachments: namely of Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Democrats are currently reserved about pushing towards impeachment as the confession of Cohen is not sufficient to kick off the procedure. Moreover, they do not want to galvanize and unite the supporters of the Republican Party in view of the November mid-term elections. Yet, this stance might change in the future. 

The mid-term elections will be critical for American politics. 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 in the Senate will be contested. If the Republicans maintain control in the Congress, Trump will be politically undisturbed and able to set up his plan for the 2020 presidential election in relative peace. However, if the Democrats make an electoral comeback, the next two years will not be easy for the American President. They will gain time to discuss the impeachment scenario while waiting for the Russia inquiry result. The pressure on Trump will naturally increase. 

This polarized climate in the U.S. and the difficult political battle in view of the midterm elections is not good news for China. The "America First" agenda is a tool Trump is using to persuade his electorate that he remains committed to his pre-2016 promises and to serve U.S. interests. The continuation of the trade war with China is placed in this framework. 

The American President remains popular among supporters of the Republican Party. A recent Pew Research poll reveals an average of 84 percent of Republicans approved his job performance. Even after the stormy week witnessing the convictions of Manafort and Cohen, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll presents his approval rating as steady. U.S. economic growth will slow in the next few quarters due to the trade war – as the majority of economists said in a recent Reuters survey – but Trump can certainly rely on tangible achievements until November. A few days ago, he tweeted about the stock market that "hit an all-time high." 

It is positive that China and the U.S. resumed trade consultations in Washington and rejected an all-out trade war. Nonetheless, the next three months do not offer any good momentum for a breakthrough. The climate will perhaps improve after the mid-term elections. By then, the political landscape in the U.S. will be clearer while the expected slowdown of U.S. growth will perhaps challenge Trump's economic ideology regarding China. 

George N. Tzogopoulos is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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